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Redbuds: Sweethearts of the Woodland

To add maximum impact in partial shade, choose a cultivar with extraordinary foliage, flowers, or habit

Fine Gardening - Issue 192
'Appalachian Red' Eastern redbud (C. canadensis, Zones 4–9). Photo: JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

Small, native, flowering trees always seem to be in high demand, with dogwoods (Cornus spp. and cvs., Zones 2–9) traditionally getting the lion’s share of attention. But in recent years, redbuds (Cercis spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9) have been experiencing a well-deserved renaissance as appreciation has grown for their flowers, foliage, and form, which provide multiple seasons of interest. There are about a dozen species, native to regions throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, though most cultivated redbuds belong to the Eastern U.S. species (Cercis canadensis, Zones 4–8).

The foliage of redbuds is a lovely heart shape and provides a quite different texture than that of most other garden plants. Redbuds are naturally understory trees and are happiest when grown out of the brightest afternoon sun and with adequate moisture. They are quite adaptable, even in exposed conditions, and are hardy to Zone 6 in general, with some selections hardy down…

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