En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 05, 2014

From: Cleveland, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning a Young Cercis canadensis (Redbud) Tree
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a redbud tree that was transplanted when very young (five years ago). It just started budding last year. It is growing very well but the branches are low. It's like it's growing out instead of up. Can I prune the bottom limbs or somehow train it to grow more upward? It has a special meaning to me and I don't want to ruin it.

ANSWER:

The best time to prune redbud (Cercis canadensis) is in the spring just after the flowers have finished. Alternatively, you can prune it in late winter while it is still dormant and before it starts to bloom but you will be removing some of the blooms.

Redbuds often have more than one trunk and will grow in a shrub-like manner that could end up being nearly as wide as it is tall. They can be pruned and trained to have one straight trunk and be grown like a small tree. It is important to start training a redbud in its early years. Stand back and take a look at the branching structure and select the ones that you want to keep. Look for branches that have U-shaped junctures instead of narrow V-shaped branch crotches that could break in gusty winds. Also consider removing branches that are crossing each other, growing into the center of the tree, or are damaged.

Redbuds frequently have low branches when they are young. Take off one or two of the lowest branches each year as it grows until you are satisfied with the shape and branching structure. Pruning the branches when they are still small is more desirable than taking off larger diameter ones.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

More Pruning Questions

Best time of year to trim oak trees from Beloit WI
July 23, 2010 - What is the best time of year to trim oak trees?
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

Pruning practices from Austin
May 16, 2013 - I need to do some pruning in my front beds and I know nothing about plants. From what I have been able to identify I have bicolor irises, plumbago, Japanese Aralia. I don't even know where to begin o...
view the full question and answer

Sprouts at base of holly in Surprise AZ
November 15, 2010 - Friends have recently planted a holly tree in their front yard. They live in AZ and there is no grass (only rock) around their tree. It was planted as a fairly large tree (about 18 feet).My question i...
view the full question and answer

Pruning tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
June 05, 2009 - Thank you for your answer regarding when my tulip tree will flower. I also understand it can/will grow to over 100 feet so should we be pruning it a certain way to keep it contained? thank you
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center