How To Grow Redbud from Seeds – Planting Seeds & Starting The Tree
Redbud seeds need to be treated before planting them. The process of scarification and stratification is helpful to break the seed dormancy before planting them in a moist sunny spot.
The redbud tree, also known as the American redbud, is an attractive flowering tree. For growing a redbud tree, patience is of utmost importance. But both experienced and novice gardeners can enjoy the process of growing it as it is extremely fulfilling.
Varieties like western or eastern redbud are popularly grown as ornamental landscape trees with their attractive white or pink flowers. These trees are also known for their neat growth habit and adaptability.
If you want to learn how to grow a redbud tree from seed at home, it would be best to start with seed pod collection in fall when their color turns brown. After treating them, you must plant them in moist soil, mulch after watering up to 1 inch weekly when young, and lastly provide them with 4-8 hours of sun.
So, what are these seed pods? Right before the leaves start appearing, redbud trees are covered with stunning pink or white flowers in spring. These pollinated flowers develop into seed pods that appear like peas. Once you tear apart and open the seed pods, you will find two or more seeds inside.
Though redbuds belong to the legume family, their seeds are not soft like beans and peas. They are hard and slow to germinate. So, you need patience on your part when growing redbud from seeds.
Seed Pod Collection and Seed Preparation
The attractive flowers of redbud that bloom in spring, later on, develop into flat pealike seed pods. These pods are 4 to 10 ¼ inches long and contain two or more brown seeds. Though the seeds are huge in numbers, they don’t pose a risk of litter.
One downside of redbud trees is that the seeds germinate slowly, but if you want to grow a redbud at home then the seeds are the most reliable means of propagation.
During fall, collect the seeds when the seedpods have fully ripened and dry. Scarifying the seeds by sanding them briskly along one side can help you remove the hard outer shell. Be careful not to damage the inner embryo. You can also submerge the seeds in boiling water for a minute so that the outer coat of the seed is softened.
Post-scarifying, the seeds require cold stratification. Remove seeds and allow them to air dry for several days. Let them dry out completely. Store the seeds in a sealed food container at 35 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fill the container with a moistened mixture of half sand and half peat moss. Ensure that the seeds are completely covered. Place them in the refrigerator for five to eight weeks so that the seeds are chilled before sowing. Label the container with the date before storing.
When To Collect Redbud Seeds?
The best time to collect the seeds is during the fall when they turn brown.
Can You Plant Redbud Seed Pods Directly?
No, you need to collect the pods when they turn brown. Air-dry the pods first before removing the seeds. The seed coats of redbud are impermeable and hard in addition to containing dormant embryos.
So, they require both scarification and cold stratification before germination. Scarify the seeds by soaking them either in concentrated sulfuric acid for half an hour or in boiling water for a minute. Post scarification, the seeds should be cold-stratified at 35 to 41 F for 5 to 8 weeks. They should be planted at ¼ inch depth after that immediately.
Preparing The Seeds Before Planting
For those gardeners who are wondering how to start a redbud tree from seed, you need to know first that before planting the seed, you need to prepare the seed.
In this process, scarification and stratification play an important role. It is extremely important to break the dormancy of the seed before it can germinate. Dormancy is the result of a thick and hard seed coat.
There are many ways the seed coat can be broken. You can break open a seed using the metal file or coarse sandpaper. Even treatment with boiling water works. Put the seed pod in boiling water for one minute so that the outer coat becomes soft. You can also scarify the seeds by soaking them in sulfuric acid for 30 minutes.
The seeds of some redbud species refuse to germinate until they are exposed to cool temperatures and moist conditions for many weeks and months. In some areas, winter provides the perfect weather condition to break dormancy.
However, if you do not reside in such a location, you can achieve this process of stratification by placing the seed in a moist mixture of half sand and half peat moss. Store them preferably in coffee cans, containers of cottage cheese and plastic jars.
Provide air in the container by punching holes in it. You can also stratify the seeds in plastic bags and place them in the refrigerator.
Some trees like redbud have hard impermeable seed coats and dormant embryos. For germination, these seeds need to undergo both scarification and stratification processes.
How Do You Know If Redbud Seeds Are Viable?
Check the viability of the seeds by dropping them in a water container before scarifying. Remove the seeds from the pods before putting them in water. If the seeds are viable, they will sink in the water, while the non-viable seeds will stay afloat. Discard the non-viable ones and take in the viable seeds.
Planting The Seed, Germination and Starting A Redbud Tree
Since redbud trees have a delicate root system, it is best to plant the seeds in a big container with ample space for the roots to develop so that there is no need to, later on, repot the plant into another container.
Fill commercial potting mix in a 1-gallon nursery pot. Make sure the mix contains a little bit of sand. Moisten the potting mix and gently tap it down to collapse any air pockets. Sow a pretreated seed at a depth of ¼ inch in the center of the pot.
Place the pot outdoors in a shelter or if you are placing it indoors, keep it near the south-facing window. These seeds germinate at around 70 degrees F. Ensure that the soil is moist but not soggy. The surface of the pot should dry out between waterings. You will have to wait patiently for two weeks for a seedling to emerge.
How To Plant Redbud Seeds?
For a redbud to thrive well, it should be provided with the right kind of conditions to grow. Let us look at how we should care for a redbud tree the correct way so that it turns into a thriving tree.
Redbud trees prefer moist, well-draining soil though it should not be excessively wet. It prefers slightly alkaline soil. So, if your soil is not alkaline, you can amend it by using agricultural lime to raise the pH level to 7.5.
It is always better to plant redbud trees in fall or early spring so that there is less water demand. These trees need to be watered well. Spread a thick layer of mulch as it will help conserve water and also keep the weeds at bay.
Young redbud trees will need one inch of water every week. Pour water on the soil below the drip line of the tree slowly, let it soak into the soil, and then pour a little more. During the growing season, these trees need water every two or three days unless your area receives at least one inch of rainfall.
Once the first season has passed, you can cut back on the watering as needed.
Make sure to use a clay pot of 7 inches. The pot should be filled 80% with a 50:50 mixture of peat moss along with sand. Always try to keep the soil moistened.
Placement of the seed
While learning how to grow redbud from seeds, make many large ½ inch-deep holes in the soil. Put about two seeds in each hole and cover the hole with soil mixture. Spray water over the seeds.
Location of the pot
Redbud trees need a minimum of 4 to 8 hours of sunlight every day. Protect them from the bright afternoon sun. Placing the tree in full sunlight will ensure a compact and symmetrical form, while partial shade will ensure a delicate and arching form of the tree.
If indoors, it should be placed near a sunny window. During summers, the pot should be placed outside, while during the winter months, it should be kept indoors to avoid freezing.
Keep the pot 6 to 8 feet away from any structure and planting site and a minimum of 3 feet from fences.
How Deep Do You Plant A Redbud Seed?
Ideally, the redbud seeds should be planted at a depth of ¼ inch.
How Long Does It Take Redbud Seeds To Germinate?
You will have to wait patiently for one or two weeks for the redbud trees to germinate.
Transplanting The Seedlings To A Permanent Location
If you came here searching for how to plant redbud tree seeds, know that the perfect time to transplant the redbud seedlings is when they are young; right after their root system has developed a bit.
There are chances that the redbud trees may not survive the transplanting process once they are larger. These trees should be transplanted into the garden in the autumn of the first year or spring of the coming year.
These trees should be planted 15 feet apart as at maturity they grow 15 to 30 feet wide. They should be planted in full sunlight or partial shade in fast-draining soil.
Make sure to plant the seedlings at the same depth as they were in their original pot. They should be provided 1 inch of water each week during summer to encourage root growth.
A 3 to 5-inch thick layer of mulch should be spread over the root to conserve the soil moisture and also to keep the weeds away. Ensure that the mulch doesn’t stick to the trunk base.
How Do You Plant Redbud Tree Seedlings?
Once you know how to plant redbud seeds correctly and have a tiny seedling ready, dig one hole thrice the width of the root ball of the redbud. Remove the tree from its original container and place it in the hole. Plant the tree straight and backfill the soil.
Right after planting, the tree should be watered well. You can even add a drip line for making watering easier. Spread a 4-inch thick layer of mulch around the tree. Make sure that the mulch doesn’t stick to the trunk as it causes rotting.
Caring For The Seedling To Let It Grow Into A Tree
Be it any variety of redbud, these trees are easy to maintain. Make sure to maintain moist soil but avoid overwatering. Redbud trees dislike waterlogged soil. Ideally, make sure to check if the top 2 to 3 inches are dry before watering.
Once the blooming stops, prune the tree in the fall. Remove any dead and diseased branches along with the ones that run across one another.
Also, try not to leave any stubs. Stubs are unattractive and also can often cause a delay in the tree’s ability to heal. It is best to go all the way on the branch to the next offshoot and cut just above the next branch.
After removing diseased branches, make sure to sterilize the pruning tools. Also, discard the fallen heart-shaped leaves properly.
Larger branches will have a raised collar on the bark. Remove the branch that is just beyond the collar. Use a hand saw to remove the larger branches. If you are unsure where the collar is then cut on the side leaving a small stub instead of cutting right into the collar.
Branches that are one and a half inches or smaller in diameter can be removed by using hand pruners. Branches that are up to 3 inches in diameter should be removed with loppers.
In early spring, apply a slow-release redbud fertilizer every year to keep it healthy and ensure plenty of blooms. It will also help prevent your tree from diseases and other problems.
Related: How to grow cosmos from seeds?
Q. What are the other ways of growing/propagating redbud trees?
Ans. The best way to propagate redbud trees is from seeds, but you can grow some varieties from softwood cutting too.
Q. Are redbuds easy to grow from seed?
Ans. Yes, redbuds are easy to grow from seeds but all it takes is a lot of patience. Redbud seeds have hard and impermeable seed coats and dormant embryos. So, before germination, it is necessary to break its dormancy.
If you are looking for a beautiful addition of a stunning rosy pink hue to your garden during spring every year, then redbud is the one for you. It comes without the hassles of tough maintenance but needs a lot of patience.
The changing colors of its heart-shaped foliage every season from blue-green in spring, to dark purple and green foliage in summer, and yellow in winter are sure to take your breath away. Our guide will be a great help to know how to grow a redbud tree from seed.