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How to Care for a Redbud Tree

By Dale Devries ; Updated September 21, 2017
Blooms form on the branches of the Redbud tree.

The Cercis canadensis has a few common names, including the Redbud, Eastern Redbud and the Judas tree. It normally grows between 15 and 30 feet tall with a 15- to 25-foot spread. The trunk is short and the tree has a rounded to vase-shaped growth habit. The redbud's claim to fame is the flowers that bloom early in the spring, right before the heart-shaped leaves develop. Most blooms are a purplish pink; however one cultivar has pure white flowers. The tree is hardy from USDA planting zones 4 through 9 and is very low-maintenance.

Water the tree to keep the soil moist throughout the spring and summer when there is no rain. Redbud trees grow best in moist soils but will not tolerate standing water.

Fertilize each spring with a slow-release fertilizer made for flowering trees. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the amount to apply.

Apply a top dressing of compost to the soil around the tree after flowering. Keep the compost 2 inches from the trunk in a 2-foot diameter around the tree. Water the soil immediately after applying the compost to leech it into the soil.

Prune dead and diseased branches as soon as you notice them. Do not leave any diseased branches under the tree or around other trees. Dispose of them in the garbage or burn them so the disease does not spread.

Spray the tree with horticultural oil if a white, sticky substance is noticed on the branches or under the leaves. This is a sign of tree hopper eggs or scale. Apply the oil when temperatures are above 35 degrees F or under 85 degrees F. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount to apply.

Treat canker or leaf spot by spraying the tree with liquid copper as soon as the disease is noticed and again in two weeks. These diseases will normally be detected after a heavy rain, if they exist. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the amount to use.

Apply a miticide if you notice spider mites. Spider mites will be noticeable during dry, hot weather. Spider mites will appear on the underside of the leaves as tiny, brown specks. You may need a magnifying glass to see them. When spraying, be sure to spray under the leaves.


Things You Will Need

  • Slow-release fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose mixer and sprayer
  • Horticultural oil
  • Liquid copper
  • Miticide