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?


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
1 rating

Wednesday - October 24, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Propagating redbud (Cercis canadensis) seeds
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Our Red Bud tree is full of bean shaped seed pods. Can those be planted and if so how? I enjoy puttering in the yard.


First of all, after you remove the pods from your Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), you will need to remove the actual seeds from the pods. You will note that the seeds themselves have a very hard seed covering. You will need to scarify (break or soften) that seed cover in order to enhance germination. You can nick each of the seeds using a knife or by abrading with sandpaper. You can also do this by soaking in concentrated sulfuric acid for up to 45 minutes, but this operation should ideally be done under a fume, or chemical, hood to protect your lungs, eyes, and nasal passages. Jill Nokes in "How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest". (University of Texas Press, 2001) reports several methods to be followed after you have scarified them, but the simplest is to rinse the seeds after scarification and dry very briefly. Next put them into a flat bowl or pan and pour boiling water over them. Let them remain overnight in the water as it cools. Plant them in individual small containers to germinate. The seedlings can later be transplanted. Your local library should have a copy of the above book by Jill Nokes or you can probably find it in your favorite book store. You can check it to read about other possible methods for germinating the seed. It should be noted that not all seeds that you collect will be viable. You can check for viability by dropping the seeds (removed from the pod) into a container of water BEFORE you scarify them. The viable seeds will sink while the non-viable ones will float and you can discard them.



More Propagation Questions

Assuring berries on Viburnum dentatum
October 27, 2008 - I just purchased 2 blue muffin viburnum bushes-I live in Kansas-How many years will it be before they get berries? They are full size(3-4 ft) Do I need to trim them down for winter or just mulch the...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting an immature Sweet Bay Magnolia
May 30, 2006 - Hi Mr. Smarty Pants: I just found what I think is a Magnolia Sweet Bay growing wild next to an oak and a pine tree in my back wooded yard. It has blooms on it and is about 2 feet tall. There are tw...
view the full question and answer

TIps for tree grafting.
March 10, 2010 - When should you start grafting trees?
view the full question and answer

Rooting house plants
April 22, 2010 - Hello Mr SP: I've had Philodendron house plants (many) for years now, because they're easy to grow & that's about my style. Years ago I tried to grow a new plant from a cutting off of one, but it...
view the full question and answer

Time to mulch without inhibiting seeds in Hitchcock, TX
March 17, 2010 - When would be the best time of year to put down mulch, if I want my native plants to re-seed? I don't want to bury the seed under mulch layers or new dirt. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center