The variegated leaves on the Carolina Sweetheart™ Redbud are unlike anything we have ever seen. Following the pink flowers, maroon, red and pink leaves emerge in early spring transitioning to variegated green and white as they age. These leaves keep the tree awash with reds, pinks, whites, and greens that swirls through the leaves and tree. As fall approaches the tree transitions to shades of yellow with the reds and whites of the variegation still apparent. Topping out around 20-25 ft. the Carolina Sweetheart™ makes an excellent understory tree or center piece for a section of your garden. It's Latin name is Cercis canadensis 'NCCC1' because it was created by horticulturalists at NC State University and it can be difficult to propagate making it a rare and special tree.
Like most redbuds varieties, these are hearty trees that grow quickly. In the spring, you should enjoy the clusters of 1/2 inch purple pink flowers that appear directly on the bark. A healthy tree will have the strongest variegated growth immediately after flowering early in the spring. Variegation will fade somewhat into the summer depending on location and health of the tree. To protect the trees roots from summer heat stress refresh 2-3 inches of organic wood mulch annually - especially if the tree is in full or afternoon sun. In the fall, prior to leaf drop apply 5-7 month slow release fertilizer to encourage strong spring growth. Variation tends to be strongest on new growth, so trim dead branches in the late fall/early winter. We recommend keeping the 2-3 foot radius around the tree clear of grass and well mulched for the first few years, this will keep grass from competing for water and encourage root growth. Once the tree is well established, (3-4 years) grass can be allowed to return.
|Bloom Color:||Pink to purple|
|Bloom Period:||Early spring|
|Fall Color:||Variegated with yellow, reds, whites, and greens.|
|Foliage Color:||Variegated red, green, pink, and white|
|Genus & Species:||Cercis canadensis 'NCCC1'|
|Mature Height:||20 to 25 ft.|
|Mature Spread:||15 to 20 ft.|
|Soil Type:||Well drained soil, but highly adaptable. Very tolerant of different conditions|
|Sun Exposure:||Full sun; Partial sun; Partial shade|
|Zone:||4 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 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.
I ordered a Carolina sweetheart redbud from New Blooms Nursery for $150. I was sent a decently sized tree with almost no roots whatsoever, in mid April. The planting time for bare root trees in my zone is between November and March. The tree had basically no time to root in, has yet to break dormancy as of June 3rd, and seems to be dying branch by branch. The root zone has remained consistently moist, but it didn’t have enough time to establish and survive the heat of May. It’s extremely bizarre to ship a dormant bare root tree in mid spring. I was given NO indication that that’s what I would receive.
I recently purchased a Carolina sweetheart tree from new blooms. The site here says zones 4-9. When the tree arrived it was tagged by star roses and plants as having a hardiness zone of 6-9. I am in zone 5 so this is a big problem for me because I just spent $140 bucks on a tree, lots of time and labor holding onto it until Mother’s Day and planting it before I read the tag which informs it will not make it through next winter. Very disappointed.
It appears that the Star and Roses plant hanger has the incorrect information - the North Carolina State University page where this plant was developed reports this plant having a cold tolerance similar to other redbuds up to zone 4. Additional sources back this up. I would say that zone 4 is always going to be a stretch for a redbud of any kind except for the specific varieties developed for cold hardiness. Zone 5 should not be a problem - especially if extra mulch is applied through the winter months to protect the tree.
Curbside pickup was very convenient. The tree had both the last remnants of spring flowers and new red leaves when we picked it up. Stood about 7.5 ft tall. Tree has been very healthy and put out a profusion of gorgeous leaves. Very happy with our purchase and glad to have been able to find this variety.
I ordered two red bud's from new bloom. Both trees arrived in sealed plastic in good shape. They were not cheap but shipping was included and the size made them very competitive on price. I planted them the day they arrived and am waiting for them to break bud. I live in zone 7a. Thank you!
I just received the Carolina Sweetheart and the Red Kousa dogwood trees. I was AMAZED at the size of these trees. These are local nursery quality trees. The dogwood was multibranched w/ tons of buds. The CS was well over 5' tall. Very healthy appearing. I definitely bookmarked this nursery as a favorite. This is my 1st time ordering from this site. Pleasantly surprised at the quality of the trees! Also, I have bought 2 bareroot Red Kousas in the past from other vendors; paid about the same amount for scrawny sticks that didn't live. I will definitely be ordering more from NBN.