Cercis canadensis

drpraetorius(7)January 4, 2014

The redbud is considered to be an understory tree. How much shade can it take and what does it look like when grown as an understory tree? Does it get lanky and rangy?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

in MI .. near full shade ...

none have classic tree lines.. IMHO ... its a battle ... many.. especially rogue seedlings.. are basically free form.. no matter how i try to shape them ....

but.. buy a 6 foot plus one.. already in tree form.. and you ought to have a nice shaped tree ...

they also go crazy in full sun ... one might call the shade TOLERANT.. rather than think of it as requisite ...

as to gangly.. rangy ... i would think of more a a lower annual growth rate in shade .. rather than starved for light.. and reaching every which way ...

again.. all based on my z5 experience ...

the words in my head.. are a lot clearer than they appear in typing.. lol ... i can try again.. if you are confused ...


    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:24PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

The answer you are looking for is: It IS an understory tree but if very little light it is as ken says, in essence, single stem with little branching. The more sun, the more topgrowth, branching and flowering. You almost might call them "sun tolerant" around my area - good growth depends on the overall annual protection from not only the sun but the scorching wind. "Tolerance" does not equal good growth.
But I sense that you are asking because you have a deep shade problem and want a tree.
Look at dogwoods, some of the viburnums, yew and hydrangea if deep shade.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:43PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

They're natural habitat around here seems to be in shade or at least partial shade. However, they do fine when planted in full sun. They are far less full in a shady area, but I don't think I'd call them lanky.

The biggest thing I have against this species is it's pronounced tendency for narrow branch crotch angles and weak branch attachment. I see redbuds split apart just as often as Bradford pears. Of course, the redbuds are often smaller and less of a mess to clean up. One can train a redbud with branch spreaders (like used for orchard trees) and by selective pruning. One other downfall is that they are normally short-lived.

Don't get me wrong, redbuds definitely have a place in the landscape. They are especially showy in spring with their profusion of purple flower lined branches. One could probably start with a well-branched larger specimen from an up-scale nursery and save some effort on training.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:43PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

That is different than around here. I have many in heavy shade, and they probably branch (major branches from the trunk) equally to specimens in full sun. They also do well here in full sun. In fact, they are very commonly seen planted along highways in what would be trying conditions for any tree. They probably do better in that hot highway median condition than most any other type of tree that are commonly used for that purpose here in Knoxville. At the right time of year, it's an impressive site!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:24PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

The difference is probably that we have frequent drought periods in summer and desiccating, scorching winds coupled with very low humidity.

I have two redbuds. Both are protected from SW wind (predominant here). My eastern began life in pretty deep shade and was basically a whip until maybe its fourth season. When I transplanted it into a sunnier area it branched like crazy, even being just transplanted, but not saying that wouldn't have happened anyway that season.

The Oklahoma redbud is in more sun and has been much bushier from the start. But like I said I think our mean "prairie" winds and droughts are the limiting factors.


    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:58PM
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