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Saturday - January 23, 2016

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Reducing the Height of a Redbud Tree
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We have a very large, about 15-year old, Redbud tree that is growing so tall it's obstructing our view of the river. How and when can we prune this tree back so it does not hurt the tree.

ANSWER:

Cercis canadensis is a large shrub or small tree, 10-20 ft. in height. Yours has obviously reached a nice tall mature height.

All Cercis canadensis varieties, have clusters of flowers that appear in early spring before the leaves emerge and continue to bloom as the leaves develop. Leaves are heart shaped to kidney shaped, rounded at the tip, slightly wavy on the edges, and glossy, often with some hairiness on the underside. Flowers rose purple, in small clusters along the branches, appearing before the leaves, in March or early April. Fruit a flat, reddish brown pod up to 4 inches long and pointed at the tip. Deciduous leaves turn gold or red in fall. Seedpods are reddish purple and persist into the winter.

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. 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.

 

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