Aptly named for its perfectly heart shaped leaves, Ace is a tree that combines distinct elements of near perfect symmetry. It is the kind of tree that holds your eye and forces you to encounter what you see, it is both memorable and pleasurable. Each branch of Ace of Hearts stacks its leaves in an arrangement that we describe as beautiful and unique. In fact, it is hard to describe in words just what makes Ace of Hearts so special. There is just something about the symmetry of its form that simply captivates.
Ace of Hearts is a somewhat shrubby redbud, and can be grown as such or as a small tree - Ours have been pruned into a tree-like shape. This makes it a good option near a home, walkway or in a dedicated flower bed. It grows quickly to around 12 feet tall x 10 feet wide and will hold interest the entire growing season due to its abundant pink spring blooms and unusually symmetrical foliage.
|Bloom Period:||Early spring|
|Fall Color:||Yellow, orange|
|Foliage Color:||New growth emerges orange and transitions from yellow to green|
|Genus & Species:||Cercis canadensis 'Ace of Hearts' PP#17161|
|Mature Height:||10 to 12 ft.|
|Mature Spread:||10 ft.|
|Soil Type:||Adaptable to many soil types, including wet soil, but prefers moist, but well draining soil that is rich in organic matter|
|Sun Exposure:||Full sun, partial sun, partial shade|
|Zone:||5 to 9|
General care for any tree or shrub is easy, but like any living thing will require your attention. Please educate yourself and follow these simple rules.
Caring for Ace of Hearts Redbud
Soil quality and how to plant the Ace of Hearts
The Flame Thrower, like most redbud trees prefers consistently moist soil that is rich in organic matter, but can do well in a wide range of soils. Soil compaction will restrict growth and should be addressed by digging as large a hole as possible. We recommend a minimum of 3x3 ft. and digging at least 18 inches deep to break up the soil. Remove the grass, but retain as much of the original soil from the grass clumps as possible. A higher quality soil can be supplemented, but use no more than a 30% new to 70% original soil ratio. Too much new soil can cause water to pool in the hole, which will drown and kill the plant. With redbuds, mulching is extremely important (especially in the early years) as it suppresses grass and weeds, retains moisture, improves soil quality and reduces the chances of compaction from foot or mower traffic. For more specific details on how to plant see our guide.
When to fertilize the Ace of Hearts
The Flame Thrower depends on new growth for it to maintain it's spectacular appearance, so fertilizer is recommended for optimal growth. A soil test is recommend for accurate fertilization, but a general NPK + micronutrients slow release fertilizer will cover the basis if a test is not performed. We recommend a 10-11 month slow release fertilizer be applied each year as a top dress in the mulch around the growing area. Apply this fertilizer prior to spring, so that the tree has access to nutrients in the spring and fall growing periods.
How and when to prune the Ace of Hearts
Pruning can be a challenge for new gardeners, so unless you are experienced, we recommend limiting pruning to a few branches each season. Pruning can be done during the winter months, but will rob you of the newest blooms. Pruning can also be done in late spring, after the blooms fade. Try to focus on branches that cross into the tree or create a steep V as these can create rubs, restrain growth on the central leader, and lead to breakage. Prune branches that are lower to the the ground to allow for space under the tree for mowing and and a more tree-like appearance. Most redbuds will grow shoots around the base of the tree, trim these back as low to the ground as possible each season. I've seen shoots grow almost to the size of a small tree within a few months, so get them as early as you can. When pruning take care to prune branches when they are as small as possible and take no more than 1/3 of the branches from a tree in one season.
Caring for your Ornamental - Redbud
Redbuds are an amazing and varied species of tree. General care and soil requirements are the same, although light and temperature requirements will differ based on cultivar. Getting a new redbud properly established should be your number one goal in the first season of growth. Most problems with redbuds are the result of tree stress due to poor soil quality, lack of root growth and competition with grass. Once established and properly placed redbuds are dependable trees. See our planting guides for directions on how to properly plant and establish a tree.
Redbuds do prefer some shade, afternoon shade is best as morning sun decreases problems with powdery mildew, but most cultivars will grow in full sun without issue. They will not tolerate a site with standing water and prefer well-drained soil rich in organic matter, but can thrive in a wide variety of soils with proper care. A well established tree should not experience major problems. If you are having problems soil quality, watering, light, mulch and competition should all be checked.
Problems with powdery mildew can occur and if they do we recommend increased airflow and making sure your watering regiment does not wet the leaves. In very wet years or climates this problem can be unavoidable, but try pruning back some of the branches or your redbud to increase airflow. Early spring and after flowering are both suitable times to prune - following directions for proper tree pruning.
Redbud Leaf Roller Caterpillars
Leaf roller caterpillars are small and zebra striped. They will fold, roll, or paste leaves together with silk to create a home. Once again established trees should not be a problem (see below for weeping redbuds), pruning back some of the leaves can improve airflow and access to predators. If you continue to be bothered by them, we suggest stepping back 10 ft. and seeing if they are still a problem. If they are, we prefer the long term solution of creating habitat for predators, birds and tiny parasitic wasps (they don't sting) over the use of pesticides that do more harm than good. Once again eliminating some of the leaf density will give them less high quality real estate, while making them easier for predators to reach. Peeling apart stuck leaves before they receive too much damage is also helpful. We don’t recommend pesticides as these will struggle to reach the leaf rollers caterpillars, simply making them more accessible to predators and using the 10 ft. rule (view the trees from 10 feet away) are the best approaches to dealing with this important food source for birds.
Leaf Cutter Bees
We get a lot of questions about perfectly cut circles and semicircles in redbuds. These are fascinating in their own right, and you may think tiny ancient aliens visited your tree at night. This is the work of the leaf-cutter bee, which is an important native pollinator that uses redbud leaves to make its nests. Once again, living with nature and the 10 ft. rule is the best approach here.
Weeping redbuds are great trees for small spaces, use them in a home landscape for their unique appearance and beautiful qualities. They must be trained to a certain height, so if purchased below the intended size, stake them and tie them with vinyl tape periodically to help them reach the desired size. At 3-4 in height they make an interesting alternative to shrubs, at 6-7 feet they are gorgeous weeping trees.
Powdery mildew and redbud leaf rollers can be a bigger problem for weeping redbuds due to the leaves layering on top of one another that create a lack of airflow and deny access to predators. We recommend periodic pruning of your weeping redbud if you experience either of these issues. Think of it as a haircut and take your time pruning only a small amount and smaller branches if possible. Spring and summer after flowering are both good times to prune.