Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Grow a Redbud Tree

redbud branch image by Carbonbrain from

The redbud, or Cercis canadensis, is a small tree covered with small pink buds in the early spring. These buds all open at almost the same time, producing a spectacular effect of pink- to rose-colored flowers blanketing each branch of the tree. Since the red bud tree will usually grow to only 25 to 30 feet high, you can add it to your landscaping plans without it taking over too much space.

Find a sunny spot where you can transplant your redbud tree. It will thrive in full sun in most areas, unless you are in an area that has especially long hot summers, where it will do better as an understory tree, or a tree growing under the partial shade of another tree.

Provide a light rich loamy soil for the tree at planting. It will tolerate alkaline soil, clay and sometimes soggy soil for a short time, but will prove to be healthier in better soil. If you can add some good, well-rotted compost into the soil at planting, the roots will be able to work themselves into the soil with less effort.

Water the tree during times of low rain or drought. It can survive usually without irrigation, but you run the risk of it becoming susceptible to disease. One of the interesting qualities of a redbud is that it is nitrogen-fixing in the soil like a legume, so you don't have to add any nitrogen to the soil as a fertilizer.

Prune the redbud so it is multi-branched for the best blossoming effect. Remove any branches that have a tight v-shaped crotch and save those with a wider u-shaped union. This will keep the branches strong and less prone to cracking under pressure from wind or snow.

Redbud Tree Growth

The redbud tree, also called the Judas tree, is relatively small when mature. This tree is moderately fast growing, becoming about 7 to 10 feet tall and 15 to 35 feet wide by age 5 or 6. The tree's heart-shaped leaves are reddish-purple when young, but slowly become dark green and turn yellow in fall. A spot that remains wet and soggy for long periods is not a good choice for this tree, but you can improve your soil's drainage by adding sand at planting time. The redbud tree needs little pruning, but you can trim back its young branches to help encourage additional branching and a bushy form. The tree blooms on both old and new wood, so this is best done as soon as flowers fade.

Garden Guides