Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
May, 2008
Regional Report

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This maturing Eastern redbud is a favorite in the old neighborhood.

Eastern Redbud, a Tough Survivor

After a long winter, it's a delight to watch the ornamental trees explode with a profusion of colorful blooms. Despite our fluctuating temperatures and spring snowstorms, their consistent color is a sure sign that spring has arrived.

One of my favorites is the Eastern redbud that blooms ahead of its foliage. The leaves follow soon after the flowers fade. The intensely colored, purplish pink flowers are a great companion to spring-flowering bulbs. Blossoms appear along the branches and even on the main trunk. The heart-shaped leaves emerge reddish purple and mature to a darker green. They make this small tree a wonderful choice for groupings, near the edge of a woodland garden, near a sitting rock, or close to the patio. In older neighborhoods you can often find this tree planted near the entryway to shade the porch, and older specimens prove the hardiness of this tree with its dark, blackened bark that adds interest to the stark winter landscape.

Siting a Redbud
The Eastern redbud will grow in a wide range of Rocky Mountain soils, particularly those that are alkaline. In order for this tree to adapt and grow successfully, the soil must be well drained. Amend heavy clay with compost to improve soil texture and drainage. Site the tree where it will receive morning sun and some afternoon shade. It can be grown in full sun, but it has been my experience that slight shade from intense sunlight from south and southwest exposure will reduce severe sunscald to the young bark and prevent winter desiccation.

Keep a newly planted redbud watered deeply on a regular basis in dry locations. Once established, the redbud will endure drought conditions quite well.

During the fall the leaves turn yellow and pea-like seedpods form and turn a mahogany brown. The seeds can be a nuisance when they reseed in shrub borders or flower gardens, but the small seedlings are easily pulled while they're young.

There are many flowering trees to appreciate in the spring, so take time to walk through your neighborhood to discover options that can soften your landscape and provide seasonal interest. Many are good candidates for providing a focal point in an otherwise open landscape.

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