Almost every landscaper and garden designer I know loves the Minnesota-strain redbud tree (Cercis canadensis), and with good reason. These gorgeous spring-flowering trees seem to have a halo of pink blooms when they are in flower, which is typically mid-May. They hold onto the blooms for nearly three weeks, about twice the time of many other spring-flowering trees. They can be grown on a single stem or multiple stems and develop a horizontal shape on top that is striking in the landscape.
With our long winter, I wondered: will the redbuds bloom in 2018? The last time redbuds did not consistently bloom was in 2013-2014, which was a tough winter—long, snowy, with persistent cold temperatures. This winter has certainly been long, but not necessarily extremely cold in the parts of the state where redbuds are grown. (All bets are off for those folks places like Embarrass and International Falls, MN, where temps hit the -40s F a few times in 2017-2018.) According to the National Weather Service records, the lowest-low in Minneapolis all winter was -16 on New Year’s Eve. That’s not that low, which makes me hopeful that the redbuds will bloom, no matter how much snow and cold weather we had in April.
And, that’s good news. The Minnesota-strain redbud is a pretty plant with an interesting story. Redbuds, which are native to places like Illinois and southern Wisconsin but not Minnesota, were planted back in the 1950s at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. To the surprise of the arb researchers, some of the trees survived and the seed from those trees was planted to create the Minnesota-strain. You can find redbuds in almost any nursery in the southern half of the state now.
When we moved to our new house in 2016, one of the first trees we planted was a redbud. I’m hoping this one (photo of bud, above left) and all the other redbuds bloom in the next few weeks.