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

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Sunday - May 04, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Xeriscapes, Planting, Trees
Title: Appropriate use of redbud from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am considering purchasing a hearts of gold redbud; I am also xeriscaping my front yard. I live in Austin,TX. Will this tree do ok in full Tx sun (8+ hours) with once a week watering? If this tree is not optimal, can you suggest similar flowering trees that will handle these conditions better.

ANSWER:

This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) grows natively in Travis County, so of course we would consider that optimal.

However, from this Plant Finder from Missouri Botanical Garden, we learn that there is a Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud) which has a trade name of 'Hearts of Gold." Again going to the USDA Plant Profile Map, this time on Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud),  it still grows natively in Travis County, so you're okay on that point.

Follow this plant link, Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud), to our webpage on that plant, where you will find these Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Moist, fertile, well-drained soils."

So, first, you need to determine if you have a good shade (2 hours or less of sun a day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) to put your new plant. But the most important thing is not where but when to plant a woody plant. That 8+ hours you cite is probably going to fry a new little plant. We strongly recommend that in hot, dry Central Texas woody plants (shrubs and trees) be planted in cool weather, preferably December and January. We suggest that before you spend that money on a likely-doomed tree, you rethink your plans. We could suggest some trees native to this area that can take the full sun, but we still don't recommend planting them now. For instance, here are the Growing Conditions for Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Drought Tolerance: Medium , High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, calcareous, rocky, sandy, loamy, or clay soils, usually limestone-based.
Conditions Comments: Drought- and cold-tolerant within its range. Give dappled shade when young. A selection called Sanderson is said to be the most drought-adapted Texas redbud cultivar."

So, that would do fine, but NOT IF YOU PLANT IT NOW. And don't buy one to save and plant in late Fall. Those black plastic nursery pots are not designed for survival of the resident plants. Wait until the right time of year, and then buy a good, fresh plant and be sure to insist that the roots be pulled out of the can beforehand, so you can make sure they are not pot-bound, with roots circling inside.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

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