The Q&A Archives: Encouraging Shrub Growth of Redbud

Question: I've noticed that our native redbud tree often grows up as a shrub with multiple trunks or stems instead of in regular tree form. How can I encourage the shrub form in my garden? Also, I notice that in the wild, redbuds and other small trees grow much closer together than the recommended spacing given for the garden. I like the look that results, tall, airy trees with most of their foliage at the top, woven together. I've considered the possibility of planting redbud and dogwood of different colors together in this way. Will it work? If so, can you recommend spacing or other special requirements that might be important? Thanks. Stephen Cable Canton, IL

Answer: There's no reason why you can't grow redbuds, dogwoods and other native trees closely together in your landscape to create a more "wild" look. Spacing is up to you and if you see a wild landscape you like, take a close look at how far apart the treesare spaced to recreate that effect. I would say they should be at least 3-4' apart. I would be sure the soil is prepared extra well and they get enough light to grow. To make a trees into a shrub form, just prune back the center leader and the side branches will take over. Then prune in the future to keep the shrub shape.

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