When to Plant Redbud Tree Seedlings Outside


The optimum periods to transplant eastern redbud saplings or seedlings are in the spring and fall; however, the precise timing of the transplantation will depend on the climate of the area. The eastern redbud, also known as Cercis canadensis, thrives in the plant hardiness zones 4 to 9a recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is where it is often planted because of its spectacular pink blooms and appealing, spreading growth habit. According to the Clemson Cooperative Extension, it has a relatively quick growth rate but a short lifespan, with its population beginning to dwindle after just 20 years. Because the first few years in the ground have a significant influence on the health and durability of a redbud tree, it is essential to plant these low-maintenance and adaptable plants at the appropriate season and under the appropriate environmental circumstances.


Saplings of the eastern redbud should be planted in locations with moderate winters in the spring or the fall.

When to Plant an Eastern Redbud Sapling

Saplings of redbud trees may be planted at any time of the year, although the University of Florida IFAS Extension suggests that planting them in the spring or fall will result in the best possible outcomes. Redbuds that are cultivated in regions that experience milder winters fare best when planted in the fall, just before the first frost, while redbuds that are grown in regions that experience harsher winters do best when planted in the spring. Planting may even take place in the wintertime in regions that have relatively mild winters. When planting in the spring, it is advisable to wait a few weeks after the final spring frost and wait until the soil has warmed up before beginning. Planting should be avoided during the summer months since the tree may not survive the heat stress.

When it comes to choosing the right time to plant an eastern redbud sapling, age is another factor to consider. Because redbud saplings have lengthy, delicate taproots, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension advises that redbud saplings do not transfer well. Because of this, redbud saplings must be transplanted while they are very young in order to have the best chance of surviving. It is possible to transplant seedlings that are one year old as long as they are cultivated in a container that is sufficiently deep and special care is taken not to damage the roots. Planting redbud seed pods directly in the garden is another option that may be pursued in addition to planting seedlings. This can be done with fresh seeds that have been sowed in the fall.

Planting an Eastern Redbud Sapling

Depending on the temperature and moisture levels of the surrounding environment, eastern redbud trees thrive either in full sun or in half shade. For redbud plants, full sun is ideal in regions where the summers are cool and wet, while partial shade is essential in regions where the summers are hot and dry and the sun is fierce. These trees will do better in hotter places if they get at least some dappled shade throughout the middle of the day. Although redbud trees are able to thrive in a wide variety of soils, they provide the greatest results when planted in well-drained, wet soil. Because the mature height of an eastern redbud may reach 20 to 30 feet, and its spread can range from 15 to 35 feet, it is important to choose a planting site that offers sufficient space for these open-canopy trees to grow out and spread their branches.

The experts at Arbor Hills Tree Farm suggest leaving a minimum of 12 feet of space between eastern redbud trees. It is not necessary to till the soil at the planting location; instead, just dig a deep hole that is two to three times as wide as the container and has the same amount of depth. Separate the roots by pulling them apart and then lay them all over the bottom of the planting hole. When filling up the space surrounding the roots, lightly pack the dirt down as you add layers to the hole. Maintain the tree’s vertical alignment by holding the trunk in place as you fill in the gaps.

Caring for Eastern Redbud Saplings

Once they are established in a healthy growth location, Eastern redbud trees need relatively little care or attention from the owner. However, freshly planted saplings might benefit from consistent watering and mulching to help them get off to a good start. When it comes to care for freshly planted redbud trees, watering is by far the most critical aspect. If it rains less than an inch each week or if the tree is growing on sandy soil, you should water it twice a week. Less frequently—roughly once every seven to 12 days—should the tree be watered if it is planted in hard clay-based soil. Because redbud trees are prone to root rot issues, you should refrain from watering them until the earth feels dry below the surface.

Mulching is yet another method that may be used to encourage the healthy development of a young redbud tree. Mulch will not only assist to lessen the amount of watering that is necessary and protect the roots, but it will also help to prevent the development of weeds that might be in competition with the redbud for moisture and nutrients. The Kansas State University Cooperative Extension suggests spreading a layer of mulch with a thickness of two to four inches, such as bark or wood chips, in a circular pattern that is two feet in diameter around the base of a freshly planted tree. Be careful that the mulch does not come into contact with the trunk of the tree; if it does, it will produce a damp environment that encourages the development of fungi and bacteria.