Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - March 13, 2010

From: Polo, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Trouble with Redbud in Illinois
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I have a red bud bush, we live in northern Illinois, it is shedding its bark. Is this normal or is the bush dying?


Unfortunately, without seeing the actual plant, we are unable to diagnose the problem, recommend a treatment or make a prediction of whether or not your plant is in trouble. However, in my personal experience with redbud, I have not seen one actually shedding bark like an oakleaf hydrangea or sycamore does.  I have seen a vertical split that heals, but no shedding.

You don't mention how old the plant is, what kiind of light and soil conditions it is planted in and when you first noticed the problem (after a very dry, hot spell or a particularly cold winter, etc.).  You refer to the plant as a redbud bush, but I assume that you have a multistemmed version of Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)

If you click on the plant link above you will reach the information page of our database for redbud.  You will find information there about cultivation requirements and may be able to diagnose the problem. The information indicates that a redbud is an appropriate plant choice for your area.

Your local county cooperative extension service will be your best resource for solving this problem. Redbud is one of my favourite plants, so I wish you luck!

Cercis canadensis



More Trees Questions

Live Oak Suckers or ??? in Arlington, TX
September 12, 2014 - Do I have live oak suckers or an invasive plant? We bought a house a few years ago in Arlington, TX with two beautiful old live oak trees, and mostly just bare sand-dirt under them. Under one t...
view the full question and answer

Thornless honeylocust trees for Taylor TX
September 21, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Williamson County, in central Texas and I am interested in selecting trees for my backyard. I can't really explain (it may be my Midwestern roots), but I would like to plant three t...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of potted blue-green cypress
July 26, 2008 - I received a small 14" potted blue-green cypress for Christmas 2007. Kept it in a bright window, not direct sun. It was doing great until two weeks ago when it started turning brown from the center. ...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on non-native weeping birch in Brick NJ
August 16, 2009 - I have a young weeping birch-planted in spring-we water regularly, it gets good sun-and rain has been perfect--the leaves get yellow--and now they are a lot! Whats the matter? I love my little tree.I ...
view the full question and answer

Can Monterrey Oak be topped into a bush from Austin TX
June 16, 2013 - I received a suggestion to use Monterey oak as privacy hedge by topping the small tree and letting it bush. I can't find any pictures or info on this being done though.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.