By Jennifer Poindexter
If you’re in the market for a beautiful, brightly colored, flowering tree, you must pay attention to the eastern redbud.
It stands out for its dark pink blooms. These blooms are why many people make the investment into such a tree.
However, if you’re going to plant a tree, you must also know how to care for it to ensure it thrives in your landscape.
This is where I come into play. I have compiled a list of information necessary to start and care for this tree, should you decide to plant it.
Here’s what you should know when caring for an eastern redbud tree:
Growing Conditions for the Eastern Redbud Tree
The eastern redbud tree is a gorgeous specimen. It’s great for adding color to your landscape and isn’t overly large in comparison to some other tree varieties.
If you’re interested in growing this tree, it’s important to understand a few things about it. To begin, eastern redbud trees are native to North America and can grow to become thirty feet tall and equally as wide.
They’re hardy in planting zones four through eight and produce dark pink blooms that last anywhere from fourteen to thirty days.
If you live in an area where this tree can thrive, it’s important to provide adequate growing conditions. The eastern redbud tree does best when provided partial sunlight and well-draining soil.
It’s also best to plant this tree in the early portion of spring. If you can plant at the right time and provide the right growing conditions, you’re on the right track for encouraging this tree to thrive.
Planting an Eastern Redbud Tree
Now that you understand what the eastern redbud tree needs in a growing location, let’s discuss the best way to grow this tree.
When growing an eastern redbud, it’s usually best to purchase a tree from a local nursery as these trees are known for being difficult to propagate.
Should you wish to propagate your own plants, it’s best to do so from seed as propagation from cuttings is extremely difficult with this variety of tree.
If you’re propagating an eastern redbud from seed, it’s important to place the seeds in your freezer to take them through the stratification process for around ninety days.
To perform seed stratification, soak the seeds for two hours in water. Drain the water from the seeds and wrap them in a damp paper towel.
Next, wrap the seeds and damp paper towel in a dry paper towel. Then close the wrapped seeds into a sealed plastic bag and place in your freezer.
When you’re ready to plant, remove the seeds from your freezer and soak them in water overnight to help soften the outer coating. This should improve your germination rate.
Once the seeds are soaked, it’s important to put them through a scarification process due to how hard the seeds are.
It’s recommended to soak the seeds in sulfuric acid for around thirty minutes. When complete, you may transplant them outdoors in adequate growing conditions during the spring. The seeds should germinate in seven to fourteen days.
However, the fastest method for growing this tree is by purchasing an established plant. Pick a growing location with partial sunlight and well-draining soil.
From there, dig a hole three times the size of the plant’s root ball. Place the plant in the hole where the upper portion of the root system is level with the ground.
Begin mounding dirt around the roots to fill the hole. Ensure the tree is straight. Fill the hole halfway and apply a bucket of water.
From there, fill the rest of the hole and press firmly around the base of the tree to ensure the soil is compacted enough to hold the tree upright.
You now have two different methods for growing an eastern redbud tree. Pick the method which best fits your skill set and add this tree to your landscape.
Caring for the Eastern Redbud Tree
The next step in growing an eastern redbud tree is to learn how to properly care for it. As with most trees, this one is relatively low-maintenance.
If you can supply water, mulch, and prune on occasion, this tree should do fine under your care.
The first thing you must do to care for this tree is to water it deeply. This means to apply more water for a longer period of time, fewer days of the week.
Not only does this reduce the amount of time you must spend watering, but it also saturates the ground around the tree.
As the days progress and the tree needs more water, it will dig its roots into the soil to find more. In the process, this creates a stronger root system and should equate to a healthier plant.
The next thing you should do is provide a layer of mulch around the base of the tree. You should only mulch the area around the tree. Don’t pile the mulch up the tree.
This leads to volcano mulching which retains moisture in all the wrong places on the tree. In turn, your tree could develop rot and other fungal issues.
In short, be sure to mulch around the base of the eastern redbud properly to help the tree retain moisture.
Finally, you must prune your eastern redbud tree. It’s best to prune the tree during the fall months. The idea is to help the tree keep its shape and remove any dead portions of the plant.
The one thing you won’t need to do for an eastern redbud tree is fertilize it. This tree is able to grab nitrogen from the air, so it shouldn’t need a boost of nutrients at any point.
These are the few things you must do to provide your tree with adequate care. Though the tree is low-maintenance, it’s vital that you provide what it needs to keep the plant healthy throughout its life.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact the Eastern Redbud Tree
The last thing we must cover about the eastern redbud tree isn’t the best of news. The downfall to this beautiful tree is that it’s seriously prone to diseases and pests.
In fact, the tree is thought to only live for twenty years (or less) because of the likelihood it will die from some type of disease.
The best way to prolong your tree’s life is to prolong its health. How do you do this? You must understand what you’re up against and how to treat any issues at the first signs.
Let’s begin by discussing the diseases which commonly impact eastern redbud trees. These trees are frequently inflicted with cankers and verticillium wilt.
The bad part about these diseases is there’s no found cure. If your tree becomes infected with cankers, the best thing you can do is trim away diseased portions of the tree when possible.
Verticillium wilt is another disease which can’t be treated. If the tree is smaller when impacted by this disease, it may not survive.
However, some larger trees tend to last years with this disease as long as you prune away impacted areas. In some cases, larger trees have even been known to beat the disease entirely.
Mealybugs, leafhoppers, and tree borers can all be treated with an insecticide. You may be able to deter rabbits and deer from munching on your tree by using deer and rabbit repellent.
As you can see, when growing an eastern redbud tree, you may face many challenges. However, if you stay on top of these pests and diseases, you could have a better growing experience and a tree with a longer life expectancy.
You now know which growing conditions are best for an eastern redbud tree. We’ve also discussed how to grow, care, and protect this tree.
If you still think this is the right tree for your planting zone and landscape, take this information and begin the journey of adding an eastern redbud tree to your yard.