I don't know about you, but I find the color of red wine to be particularly soothing. I won't be too detailed about why, but holding a glass to the light and gazing into its depths always reveals a splendid array of red and purple hues. If I could capture this experience in a tree it would be the Merlot redbud through the growing season. Merlot is a smaller cultivar than forest pansy that has some of the characteristics of the Oklahoma or Texas redbuds. This means that the leaves are thicker and have an attractive glossy sheen. It also means that the tree is slightly less cold hardy, but much more tolerant of drought. For those looking to grow a beautiful nativar that doesn't require water maintenance in the summer Merlot is an excellent choice. Unlike the forest pansy, Merlot stays considerably smaller, in size it's much more comparable to the rising sun redbud than it is the other larger cultivars.
During the growing season (especially in fertile conditions) Merlot will maintain bright red/purple leaves. Like the forest pansy, the depth of color depends on the amount of sun that the leaves receive. In full sun the leaves will transition to a deep green with brighter green veins. In full shade, they will remain more purple with green veins. Like all redbud trees, the for pansy has captivating heart shaped leaves and small bright purple flower clusters. Redbuds are hearty and disease resistant trees, and can tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions.
|Bloom Color:||Pink, magenta, purple|
|Bloom Period:||Early spring|
|Fall Color:||Yellow, orange, copper and gold|
|Foliage Color:||Glossy leaves emerge red, transitioning to purple then dark green|
|Genus & Species:||Cercis Canadensis x Texensis 'Merlot' PP#22,297|
|Mature Height:||12-15 ft.|
|Mature Spread:||12 to 15 ft.|
|Soil Type:||Adaptable, but prefers moist, but well draining soil that is rich in organic matter|
|Sun Exposure:||Full sun; Partial sun; Partial shade; Dappled light|
|Zone:||6 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.
My Merlot Redbud is doing great. Loved how I was able to find a Texas Redbud with a little colorful flair. Tree came well packaged and is leafing out. So excited to watch it grow!
Came in a golf club box. Wet roots and a stick. Not much to review. No branches no leaves, a stick. I’ll have more to report in 5 years
Received my order for the merlot redbud (it was a whip). Immediately planted it in the ground like the instructions stated and 2 weeks later it is budding out. Very pleased.