How to Plant Oklahoma Redbud Trees
The Oklahoma redbud tree (Cercis canadensis var. texensis 'Oklahoma') is a cultivar of the eastern redbud tree, an extremely showy flowering tree that is the state tree of Oklahoma and is native to central and eastern North America.
Oklahoma is a naturally occurring cultivar of these flowering trees that was discovered in Oklahoma's Arbuckle Mountains in the 1960s. The Oklahoma redbud tree is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 6 to 9, making it less hardy than the species tree.
Oklahoma Redbud Identification
Oklahoma redbud trees have mature heights between 12 and 18 feet, with a spread of 15 to 24 feet, which makes them more compact trees than the species tree Cercis canadensis var. texensis and therefore a good, eye-catching option for small gardens.
Like other redbuds, Oklahoma redbud trees produce pea-like flowers that bloom in March and April on bare branches, before the tree's leaves emerge. This cultivar has darker colored pink or red flowers that may be magenta or burgundy in color.
As members of the legume, or bean, family of plants, the flowers of this tree are followed by seed pods that dry and can remain on the plant through the winter, adding interest.
This deciduous tree differs from other redbud varieties in that it has glossy leaves that are a dark green color. The leaves are heart shaped and have a reddish hue when they first appear. The leaves' fall color is yellow.
Planting Oklahoma Redbud Trees
It is important to choose the right location for Oklahoma redbud trees, as the root systems of these small trees do not respond well to transplanting. The ideal planting site will be exposed to full sun or part shade.
While this tree can grow in many soil types, including acidic and alkaline soils, it is imperative that the soil have excellent drainage to avoid diseases.
The Oklahoma redbud is not a tree that handles transplanting well, so select its location carefully.
Oklahoma redbud trees should be planted in early spring or early fall, but not during the growing season. Plant bare root trees in the spring and container-grown trees and those that are balled and burlapped in the fall. The planting hole should be two to three times as wide as the root ball and the same depth.
Plant Oklahoma redbud trees in well-draining soil in either full sun or part shade.
Oklahoma Redbud Tree Care
Newly planted Oklahoma redbud trees should be watered regularly to help them become established. However, even established trees need regular moisture.
This is important, because trees that are stressed due to a lack of water are more susceptible to common redbud diseases such as Botryosphaeria canker, a fungal disease that enters the trunk and branches through wounds and often shortens the lifespan of these trees.
These trees should also be fertilized every six weeks during the spring to increase their resistance to diseases. A slow-release fertilizer formulated for trees and shrubs is appropriate. Pruning out dead and diseased branches is important to control the spread of canker and other diseases.
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.