Redbud Trees


My first acquaintance with the redbud dates back a quarter a quarter of a century. It was on an excursion to the historic spot of Starved Rock on the Illinois River.  Everywhere the bluffs were colored with the blossoms of the redbud.  To me, who had never seen this plant before, it we a delightful experience.

Jens Jensen


Redbud in woods

Redbud in the woods

 Redbud (Cercis canadensis)  is indigenous just to the south of Kane and DuPage Counties in Illinois and throughout the south and southeast.   It nevertheless is hardy in our area–just be sure to buy locally grown trees.  Those that are propagated in the south are not winter hardy here.

Redbud in my neighborhood

This beautifully sculpted Redbud grows on a small lot two blocks from my house.  The placement is perfect in design and in partial shade.


redbud prairie style house

This flat-topped tree reflects the horizontal lines of the prairie-style house–a perfect pairing.  It is also in partial shade.  (No, this isn’t Oak Park–this is Elgin.)

redbud at CJS

These Redbud are growing at the edge of a woodland at the former Fox Valley Country Day School.  I do prefer the trees with multiple trunks, as have had all he examples so far.


redbud in my patio

I planted two Redbud’s, one on either side of my patio to shade it from the morning and afternoon sun.


redbud mas of blossoms

It’s the most floriferous tree I know.

redbud blossoms on branch

Blossoms grow right out of the branch.

redbud against sky

The bright pink blossoms are stunning when viewed against a blue and white sky.

Redbud is an understory tree, found in the shade of larger trees in dry-mesic soil in open woods or savanna.  It is also compatible with Black Walnut trees.  It s not suitable as a street tree–a parkway is usually too dry,  too sunny, and too narrow for a Redbud tree.  In addition, a redbud doesn’t have the heft needed for a street tree; it branches too low, and it shades neither the sidewalk nor the street, the primary task of a street tree.   It could, however, be planted in a parkway in the shade of a larger tree such as a Kentucky Coffee Tree or Honey Locust and be underplanted with sedges and woodland wildflowers for an attractive tableau.

Potawatomi Park om May

Potawatomi  Park, St. Charles, yesterday

 No matter where you place Redbud, underplant it with a sedge, such as Penn Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), and woodland wild flowers including Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans), and Wild Blue Phlox, (Phlox divaricata) all in bloom now, also.


6 Responses to Redbud Trees

  1. Jason May 9, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    The redbuds I saw at the Lincoln Memorial Garden were really breathdaking. We used to have one in our back garden but it died, not sure what of.

    • Pat Hill May 10, 2015 at 7:55 am #

      I had one at my old house and it died slowly, branch by branch, and I’m not sure why either. My advice would be to plant another. Mine are right outside my studio window and I can enjoy them endlessly.

  2. Gretchen May 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    I have at least 2 Redbuds near Black Walnut trees in McLean County. I’ve learned that Redbud seeds sprout very easily, just scatter the seeds in the fall and let ’em grow or move the seedlings when they don’t grow where you want them.

    • PatHill May 10, 2015 at 7:58 am #

      I know they grow easily from seed, but so far I have had none–it/s been 4 or 5 years.

  3. Jean Muntz May 11, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    Dave and I have just ordered a redbud and here comes your blog! I’ve always thought yours were stunning. Ours will be planted beside (and under) the “Sunburst” locust we planted when the house was built 40 years ago. Should be a dazzling combination.

    • Pat Hill May 11, 2015 at 8:20 am #

      Everything in your gardens are dazzling, Jean.

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