Problem With My Redbud Tree

suzieQ_MI(z6, SW MI)June 7, 2005


We planted a native Redbud this Spring, and it has been doing well. Two days ago, we had a lot of rain and hail, followed by hot, hot weather (In the upper 80's & low 90's).

Today I noticed that the leaves are a little shriveled, and there are some rust spots on some of the leaves.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what is causing this/these problems?



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it doesn't sound like anything to be concerned about. i think it will leaf out with nice fresh green leaves next year.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 12:51AM
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tspencer60(z7 OK)

Atypical for a newly planted redbud. Unless they are grown from seed, ANY planted-from-a-pot redbud will "struggle" for the 1st or 2nd growing season. After that, they kick; provided they are sited correctly and in the correct growing zone for their seed source.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 6:37PM
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suzieQ_MI(z6, SW MI)

I thought I would give you an update on my Redbud tree. The leaves were increasingly turning brown and curling, so I called the nursery where they told me that they were having the same problems. .that is was SO hot here, so early in the season, that the trees were aspirating faster than they could absorb water, and to spray the foliage as much or even more than the roots. It is the tendency to increase watering the roots, which in turn drowns the plant, so water as you regularly do, but water the foliage, too.
BUT, our poor tree had another problem that it just couldn't conquer. We had some cement work done, though not around any of our landscaping. Unfortunately, the workers thoughtlessly rinsed off their wheelbarrow and shovels close to the Redbud. When our tree continued to look worse, all of a sudden it hit me! That lime compound soaked into that dry soil right next to the tree! My dh dug down, and sure enough, he found hardened concrete meshed into the soil, right up to the roots!! We replaced the soil in that area, down past the root system, but it was too late. When I told the nursery about this, the owner nodded his head, and said that it wasn't the first time that he has heard of someone having plants smothered by cement residue. So please, anyone having any concrete work done, please make the workers clean up in an area far away from anything growing, that you treasure!!
Our other Redbud, that we planted at the same time, in another section of the yard, is growing beautifully (knock on wood!). Next month, we are going to plant another one to replace the one we lost. Hopefully, this one will do well too.
I hope that everyone is finding a way to keep cool!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 7:17PM
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hagey(z5 MI)

Hi! Suzie,
We have a few Redbud trees and they look more like bushes, and we wondered when to trim them up to look more like trees? Have you trimmed your trees,and if so when did you do this?
We have had no trouble with the heat or rain so far. We also live in Michigan. However, we will watch that no concrete comes near them.
Sorry to hear of your problem. It seems like it is hard to find them in our area. Betty

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 8:27PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

once established the red bud should be fairly hearty.

however trying to grow plants in concrete rarely works :-)

red buds are really more of an understory shrub like tree. i would prune in late fall after first frost or in early spring before things start to grow...

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 9:00PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

I have 2 redbuds, one has been planted 2 years and the other is a seedling from the first. I'm also in pretty much the same growing zone as you and tspencer. I'm 6a.

They are indeed an "understory" tree or shrub and need the protection of the larger trees and natural succession for optimal health.

Your redbud should come back next spring I think. It has stored energy in the roots all summer and we are so near to fall that it 'should' be ok. Just wait and see. Don't dig it up unless you do so to wash off any concrete residue from the roots.

Good luck,

southern Ontario, CANADA zone 6a

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 10:17AM
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I have a three yr old redbud that gets more sun than it did
the first two yrs due to lot clearing. Now all the leaves
are turning stiff and curly with a burnt color with brown
spots on most of the leaf. It's planted in sandy soil.

Another redbud two yrs old planted ten ft away gets less
sun and is doing fine.

Help !!!! Anyone, or is it nothing to worry about.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2005 at 10:56PM
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I was giving away 2 redbud trees - (I do love them, but the previous owner planted them in a really bad spot and as they grow they will do damage to some brickwork and some steps) The couple that said they would take them changed their minds and said that they would not survive the transplant because of their age. They are around 4 years old. Is this true? I hate to just cut them down.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 11:02AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

There are never any guarantees when it comes to surviving a transplant. However, if you hire someone who is knowledgeable with tranplanting trees that would increase the probablity of successful transplant.

Red bud trees are fairly hearty and I think if transplanted properly their chance of survival would be pretty good.

However, I think that the trees are also relatively inexpensive and it might be cheaper to just get new ones, rather than pay to have someone transplant them. (I know where I can dig up red buds fairly easy from an eroding slope)

    Bookmark   March 24, 2006 at 3:59PM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

We get a lot of seedlings. I have yanked seedlings and stuffed them in the ground under bushes so as not to waste and they all seem to survive. This year I am going to try and move a 2 foot redbud that is right next to a building. Can't hurt to try.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 7:53PM
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I have lots of wild redbuds. The roots are no problem, so please don't kill one because you are afraid it will damage hardscape. They don't like to be transplanted, but I get about 50% survival with wild trees - I think it would be higher with trees that started out in containers. They do like shade, but once they are blooming size, they bloom much more profusely in sun. Here in NC, along the freeways, the redbuds newly exposed by road clearing put on a spectacular show. I nip off lower branches to train into prettier trees anytime. The asian variety is bushier.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 6:21AM
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We recently moved to a home that has a Red Bud. We think it is still fairly young, 5 to 7 years old approx. The tree has a large split between 2 upright branches and some past owner wrapped heavy wire around the branches causing deep grooves cutting into the bark. We removed the wire, filled the gap to prevent any more damage, pounded in food spikes for flowering trees, but the tree is not recovering. One side of the tree is "less". It is slow developing, slow flowering, and the leaves are coming in few and far between. What we would like to know is if the tree can be pruned back? If so, will new grow fill in the empty area. And if we have to remove it completely, how deep is the root ball?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2006 at 1:33PM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

I have never moved a large redbud but I am transplanting a lot of seedlings. Unlike most trees, the redbud seedling puts out a somewhat broad horizontal main root, like an updside down 'U'. For a seedling 8 inches tall, I have to assume a horizontal root of 8 inches wide.

I just moved a 2 and 1/2 foot seedling. The horizontal (top of the 'U') part of the root was very hard and woody, about a foot across before the ends dipped down. I missed with the shovel and damaged the ends. A few days later, all the leaves fell off, except one twig with 8 tiny leaves. I thought it was a goner.

However today I was delighted to find a new tiny leaf sprouting at the point where each old leaf had fallen off. My transplants do well, but they take a year to start showing growth again.

I like the saying I read on this site:
First year sleep. Second year creep. Third year leap.

My redwood trees are sensitive to high heat and drought, THe leaves curl and droop unless I water them. I have a large tree that was basically girdled by critters. I wrapped it the first season. Now, unwrapped, it has developed a bark of sorts, and is holding its own. This tree is over 20 feet high.

The redwood tree is related to the bean plant.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:24PM
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Flowerkitty(Z6 or Z5 SE MI)

Sorry, I said 'redwood' when I meant 'redbud' . A big big difference.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 5:00PM
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we moved into our home late in the fall in '05. we were anxious to start planting early this spring in our open canvas yard. we purchased a nice sized redbud tree and planted on the side of our home. there were no signs of foliage when we purchased...but figured that all it needed was warm sun and spring rain. it is now the 10th of june and still no sign of budding out. if i scratch the surface on the branches there is green. any suggestions to help jump-start our redbud?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 5:58PM
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We are in our third season with our seedling.It is now six feet tall,and full of foliage.Our problem is we have not had any budding in the spring.When can we expect to see some color? Thanks

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 9:50AM
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I had some redbud trees that something was eating the leaves. I could not find anything on, around or under the leaves or anything around the base which is bare dirt.No traces of anything that could be doing this. I even went out at night with a flashlight and was not able to find the source. All but one died and it is about 4 feet tall. It's leaves are still being eaten. As soon as a new leave appears big chunks from the leaves are gone. Some have nothing left but the middle stem? I have a chance to get more but if this is going to happen to them why bother. I hope someone can clue me in on what is going on.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 7:56PM
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We planted a redbud 3 years ago--and it was not inexpensive; locally grown at a nursury. As long as we watered it through the first year or two it was fine--and bloomed. We moved to a partially wooded yard, and were please to have an old redbud in front, and thrilled to find a 10 foot one that grew naturally in the woods outside our porch (I'm sure we'll discover more in the woods). The old one has many crossed branches that have even grown together--so I think pruning out the criss-crossing branches earlier is a good idea.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 8:13PM
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sparsonsusa(z9 No. CA)

Tonkas: Your redbud should be old enough to form buds now. Blooming is determined by the amount of winter cold it gets. The more cold, the better the show. If you live in a mild-winter area, you may not consistantly get a good show. In most cases, blooming is a year-by-year issue. Some years are better than others.

1 Like    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 2:06PM
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We have a ton of bumble bees on the flowers of our 5 yr redbud, what should we do??

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 3:28PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

harrisfree, nothing. Bumble bees are good.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 9:33PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

We have a ton of bumble bees on the flowers of our 5 yr redbud, what should we do??

Take a picture and post it here for us to see.
Bumblebees are cool.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:42PM
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Hi. I'm in NW Tenn. We planted a redbud tree 2 years ago and it is now about 10ft tall. It appears healthy and always has good foliage, but has not yet flowered. The redbuds in our area are all in bloom now. Does it take awhile after a redbud is planted to bloom? Or is there something else it needs?. During the summer, it does get morning and some mid-day sun, but more shade in the afternoon. Thanks....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:24PM
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Planted three new redbud trees last fall. They bloomed and leafed out over the past few weeks. Last week we had frost, and today I see that the leaves have turned black! Is it from the frost? Will the tree survive and grow new leaves?


    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 7:52PM
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I wish I could help you all, but I need help myself. See back in March I transplanted my redbud, and so far only half of the tree is producing leaves. I can't quit tell if the other half is dead, but the main truck is still alive. Any input as to what is going on here?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 1:01PM
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Same problem as debi 01 except that I live in Maryland. My 3 year old redbud appears healthy, but has very few blooms this year. Others in the area look fine. What's wrong with mine?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 1:39PM
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I live in New Mexico. My Redbud is ~3 yrs old and has been doing well. But suddenly it has red/rust colored spots on all the leaves and they look like they are dying. We've had really hot temps lately and have started getting some rain. I've watered it deeply once a week all this time, but now somethng is wrong. Any ideas? Thanks for help :)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 1:25PM
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A windstorm broke my redbud tree off about 2 feet above ground and I pruned it just below the break. Will it ever come back to life.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 4:56PM
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Everyone should know that redbuds are understory trees and only want shade to part sun. If your plant is getting full sun, especially in hot weather, that's problematic. Second, redbuds are succeptible to verticullum wilt, a soil disease:

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Odie, if your redbud has had a chance to get established for at least a season or two, it should send up new growth and may recover. All you can do is wait and see.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 4:55PM
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We planted a redbud in the fall...we had an early freeze before the leaves fell off. It is now May 22 and there is NOTHING on our tree. I did a scratch test and it looks green...but nothing is happening. Any thoughts or suggestions?


    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 7:28PM
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We planted a redbud in the fall...we had an early freeze before the leaves fell off. It is now May 22 and there is NOTHING on our tree. I did a scratch test and it looks green...but nothing is happening. Any thoughts or suggestions?


    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 8:10PM
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I have a redud tree that has been healthy for about seven years, when it was planted when my house was landscaped. It appears to be in shock now and has not sprouted its new foliage. We had a heat wave in early spring here in Southern California maybee a month ago - while the tree was flowering. The flowers have shriveled up on the tree but no leaves have grown. Has anyone else experienced this and is there any advise you can offer?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:40PM
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I am in zone 6-6a here in Pennsylvania, and Redbuds are native here. Their natural area of growth is not that large.

Anyone with a Redbud who wants to provide optimum conditions for their trees should check out the growing conditions in Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. We rarely have temps below zero degrees Fahrenheight in my area of the state, and we get quite a bit of rainfall. Summers rarely top a hundred degrees.

If your conditions are colder in winter, your Redbud should be grown in a protected position.

If your conditions are hotter or sunnier, your Redbud will definitely need to be grown as an understory tree. Even in my area, they look happier grown that way.

If your conditions are significantly drier, you will need to water regularly.

The Redbud will gradually sew itself around into untrafficed spots or garden soil. I believe this is done by squirrels. Something is eating the seeds, because the large pods always disappear.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 3:15PM
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After blooming pretty good earlier this Spring, the flowers on my redbud have shriveled and no leaves have grown. I live in Norther California (Sacramento area) and we had a weird Spring...early warm temps followed by some windy, cold, rainy weather. Just today I noticed a number of places on the trunk where water appears to be weeping. I got close but didn't notice any large holes or other defects in the bark.

The tree is about 3 years old (at least it was planted in my yard about 3 years ago).

Any help, comments or advice would be sincerely appreciated.

The tree is about 3 years old.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 2:28PM
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Our Redbud trees are heavy with seed pods. We don't remember this happening before. Some of the Redbuds are over ten years old. What are the trees trying to tell us?

    Bookmark   December 18, 2010 at 1:20PM
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My Redbud is about 9 - 10 years old. It is beautiful and blooms every year but it is very heavy with seed pods that doesn't seem to fall off, should we pull them off? Does it help or hurt the tree either way?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 10:56AM
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I too have the problems Paul and Edwina are describing...a mature Redbud roughly 20 ft tall that is simply covered in a multitude of seedpods that have endured since last fall. It's May now and they are still there. Blooms were terrible this year too. The tree has always been a show-stopper, but this year really failed to produce. As they both asked, "What is the tree telling us" and "What should we do to maintain this treasure of a tree?"

Personally speaking, mine is in full sun and has always thrived. We live in the Bluegrass growing region and thus, have outstanding soil conditions which have no doubt given us an advantage year over year. But I suspect that a mild drought last fall, coupled with years of age and a lack of overstory protection may be killing the tree slowly. Anyone have suggestions? Can I (*should I) consider pulling the pods off the tree and trying to grow them as a replacement nature will soon command? If so, what tips have you...anyone?

Thanks for your help as this is my favorite of 50+ trees in our landscape.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 2:45PM
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My redbud tree this year was very sparse with blooms only on the top 1/3 of the tree and then very few blooms.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:07AM
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We had a Redbud planted lastg year and now only one side of the tree is Blooming. I did a scratch test on the other side a well as bend some of the new growth and I dont see green and the brittle branches break. Is the tree dying?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 9:35AM
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Here are mores pictures

Here is a link that might be useful: Redbud2

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 9:42AM
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Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 10:07AM
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they have taken up residence. we have taken limbs to save the tree. the little eaters flowed like lava when we did so . it was suggested we saccrifice. not yet ready , we waited .this has been one of it's best shows ever . i hope i can save a clone. no-one in any area close to us has one.
damn ants are so destructive to this beautiful tree.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:55PM
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Our redbud has been amazing for at least ten years, it has gone thru many stages from tons of beans to tons of flowers. This year we had very few flowers and even less leaves. It also bloomed very late. We have many bare branches. Sometimes when it is wet it appears to have mold on it. Help Any idea what is happening, we were about to cut it down because we thought it died then all of a sudden it started to come back. Still not looking good

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 9:24AM
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I have a new Redbud that has been planted since winter. It has been beautiful. It has large dark reddish purple leaves. We have had dry hot weather but we have sprinkler system. In the last 3-4 days the leaves turned brown and are dead and crunchy. What happened

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:31PM
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I looked at my leaves again on my redbud today,one day later and they are all brown. I scraped a little place on the bark and it seems to be somewhat light green. I have never seen tree leaves die in a matter of 4 days. I don't know what happened. Can anybody help me figure out what is going on and another thing. Every Redbud tree pic I have looked at has green leaves but mine were a deep wine color.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 3:33PM
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I am new at this. I have put 2 post here I think. Can someone tell me if I am doing this right. I really have a major problem with my Redbud tree

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:18AM
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As posted earlier - redbuds are succeptible to verticullum wilt, a soil disease:
This will cause all the leaves to wilt and drop in a matter of days; the diease is in the soil and infects the tree through the roots. It more or less clogs the tree's circulatory system. Sorry to say it's probably best to try planting some other kind of tree that is not affected by v. wilt in your soil, since there is no good way to rid the soil of the infection or to cure a badly infected tree.

Your redbud tree with dark reddish suede-surface leaves is a Pansy redbud - very pretty but also more susceptible to damage from high heat and strong sun than redbud varieties with lighter color leaves with a more waxy coat.

Wish I had more cheerful news - the good news is that you can look up trees that are resistant to verticulum wilt.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 6:54PM
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Thank you tegcom4 7, I guess you can guess by now that the twigs are snapping so it is very dead. It was just planted in the winter so it is new. It was so beautiful but your right. We have a 1yr. Warranty so I will get the landscaper to plant something else. I am also going to look up that soil problem because everything in our yard is new including our grass and someone is coming next week to overlay with sand. Do you think our house will rot also? Lol

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 7:06AM
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I have a redbud sapling that I have been trying to start in a pot since April 2011. It has grown and leafed out nicely this spring, but suddenly the leaves turned brittle, curled up and fell off. It has been in full sun here in Houston, so I gather from the other posts that the problem might be the intensifying heat here. Moving it to the shade, with no leaves on it. Do you think there is hope?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 4:43PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

There is always hope, especially in gardening and nature. I hope your tree perks up in the shade.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 12:31PM
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troutwind(7a SE TN)

I've learned a lot about Redbuds just reading through all the comments here. We moved into our house in '94. We're in south east Tennessee close to the Georgia and NC state lines. we have a partially wooded back yard facing east. Our house is located on a Chert ridge with more rocks than soil. Inthe beginning we had a wealth of Dogwood trees in our yard but over the years the Dogwood blight has taken more and more of them until we have no more than ten trees and they aren't doing all that well. There was a wild Redbud at the edge of a wooded lot next door to us. As our Dogwoods have dwindled the Redbuds are springing up all over in their place. The ones that are in an unwanted location I remove. The others I give my blessings and they survive or fail on their own.
This year I've gathered seeds from several of the Redbuds and plan to try to raise them in pots so I can plant them in desired spots where none have volunteered. I'm hoping that I have some success.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:22PM
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Two recently replanted redbuds in yard. Both grew from pots over last 5 years. Both moved at about 10 feet tall.

First: replanted Summer '11. Looked great last year, and this spring. Second: replanted summer '12. Waited and waited. Alas, no buds, no flowers, no leaves this spring.

With clean pen knife, looked at bark. Some green in trunk and branches...not a lot. Much greener in the first tree.

What do you think? First tree has already flowered and shooting out leaves now. Will second tree come on later this spring/summer? Wait another year? Chop it, and try with another? Big, beautifully shaped twig in ground!

This post was edited by CommodoreTwit on Wed, May 15, 13 at 12:47

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 12:28PM
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If it's green beneath the bark, why not give it time? I noticed my Redbud was one of the very last trees to leaf out this spring. Over the winter, I yanked it out of the ground and transplanted it. I figured it would never survive. It did. It's probably 4 or 5 years old. It's scrawny and only about 7 or 8 feet tall. It's a shade-loving tree, so it probably would get scorched by too much direct sunlight. And it'll probably never be a fast grower. Mine has grown extremely slowly. But I'm glad I still have it and hope that it will someday be nice.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Solid advice. Suddenly, at start of June, my dead as a doornail redbud tree has sprouted stems off the thick base at the trunk's bottom. The tree is most definitely alive. Stems feature leaves. It's weird though, as nothing above the first three feet of the trunk is doing anything. I don't know whether I shouldn't cut off these goofy looking 'sucker' stems to promote possible life higher in the branches of the tree, or just leave them alone to suck up a little bit of sunshine. I think the latter?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:25PM
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I have a redbud I should name Lazarus. The poor thing has been mowed down twice, but has managed to come back. It is now about 3 feet tall and I was happy to see it leaf out very nicely this spring. (It has never gotten big enough to bloom yet.) But now it is mid-July and all of the leaves have yellowed and are dropping like crazy. We are having a very stormy, tropical type summer with a LOT of rain. Is there such a thing as too much rain for redbuds? It is not hotter than usual, we often have 100+ temps here in Tidewater VA in summer.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 4:47PM
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My wife and I are quite upset... we have a beautiful 4 or 5 year old Redbud that didn't make it through this past winter. We have been hoping that it's just blooming late this year but sadly it now looks completely dead. We have no idea what went wrong. The tree was fine all last season, although we think we remember it lost its leaves a little earlier than usual last fall but other than that we noticed nothing out of the ordinary. I have read that once established Rebud's are quite hardy but obviously not ours. We want to replace it as soon as possible but we're a bit concerned about putting another one in the same spot that just killed the first one. Should we be concerned?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:34PM
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I have a 4 year old Redbud that survived our harsh, frigid winter but did not flower in the spring and has small sparse leaves that finally came out in May. What do I need to do to help this tree look better and not so anemic?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Just a follow up to my earlier posts. Left the one non-blooming transplant in the yard for all of 2013. When again in spring of 2014 nothing showed, I gave it the heave ho. Sad, but a nice fir tree in there now and doing well. The first redbud tree I had (blooming in photos above & here) continues in marvelous shape. This year it produced great color, along with scads of seed pods. Now, in November all leaves have dropped, but dark seed pods still cling. Do they drop off eventually? Do I need to pull them?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2014 at 7:53AM
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