Native Plants Series: Redbud

The eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) is native throughout the midwestern and eastern US. Here in South Central PA, Cercis are host plants for 28 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars, including the Spicebush Swallowtail.



Redbuds bloom in April in rose-purple flowers on dark, bare branches. One of my earliest "plant memories" is of a young redbud tree in my neighborhood in bloom, fully encased in at least 1/4" of ice. It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning . I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I digress....


Redbuds are best planted in full sun to part shade, in medium-moisture soil. They are deer tolerant and will grow to about 30' tall and wide, depending on the cultivar. Try to find the smallest possible specimen you can, as redbuds can have trouble with transplant shock.


There are many cultivars on the market today. If you are planting for wildlife, avoid cultivars with colored foliage. Early research indicates that insects avoid native cultivars with modified foliage color, especially purple/red, possibly because they do not taste the same as the original.


Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, USDA Native Plants Database, National Wildlife Federation

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