Have you seen the Redbuds in bloom? Driving where…

Have you seen the Redbuds in bloom? Driving where the native foliage has been undisturbed look for a shrub that is leafless, with colorful sweet pea shaped, magenta flowers growing on the branches and even the trunk. These are the Redbud (Cercis occidentalis). They are native to the west slopes of the Sierra Nevada below 4000 feet.

During the summer they are inconspicuous among the other native plants. They usually grow about 8 to 18 feet tall. Most grow several trunks from the base. Leaves are bluish green about 3" on diameter. In the fall the leaves turn a light yellow or red.

Don't even think of trying to transplant one from the wild. They are notorious for being difficult to transplant. They are also hard to find in garden centers. I tried growing about 50 of them last year with about 10% success. They are susceptible to root rot, and even with excellent drainage are hard to grow. If you do want to try one in the yard find a full sun spot, with excellent drainage, and give it a go.

I find the eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) to be easier to grow in the garden. They tend to grow into a small tree, rather than a large shrub, but have the pretty sweet pea like flowers.

If you want to enjoy what is one of our most beautiful flowering native shrubs, head to the hills this week as they are going to be in full bloom.