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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Western Redbud Better Choice but Harder to Find

Q. I can never find Cercis occidentalis, Western Redbud, at local nurseries. Any idea where I can locate it?
Western Redbud after flowering

A. Thanks for giving me the Latin name for this tree instead of just Western Redbud because that eliminates all confusion about which tree you might mean. If you like a reddish pink splash of spring color in about March on a small tree, you will like this tree when it flowers. The Redbud most people buy is an Eastern Redbud but it is not as suitable for our climate and soils as its Western cousin or even the Mexican Redbud.

Mexican Redbud
            Eastern Redbud is the tree that people call “Redbud” from the East Coast to the West Coast. Western Redbud is unique. It has never gained the same popularity. This is the same tree that polkadots the Grand Canyon with rosy plum color every spring.

Eastern Redbud has some soil issues in the West and not as adaptable as Western Redbud
            But Western Redbud has significant advantages over the Eastern Redbud in our climate and soils. First off, Western Redbud handles the chemistry of our soils much better than Eastern Redbud. That’s because it evolved here. It is native to southern Nevada and specifically the Charleston Mountain Range of Southern Nevada. It is small, seldom reaching heights over 20 feet tall, the perfect size for a single-story home and smaller patio-sized landscapes.
            However, it will not tolerate having “wet feet”. In other words, don’t water it too often. Give it a lot of water when you do water it and then hold off and let the soil dry before you water it again. It is native to the foothills of dry Southwestern areas including Utah, Arizona and California. It’s one of our desert natives.
            I also think the Western Redbud is a prettier tree when it’s flowering than the plain old Redbud.
            Try our State Forest Nursery located in the north part of the Las Vegas Valley. They specialize in local native plants. 702-486-5411.

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