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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.

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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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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

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