Submitted by Thomas Flatt, Gold level Master Gardener

As spring comes, the City is looking to add some color to its image as the ”Gateway City to Southern Indiana” and encourages residents to help in the effort.  Last fall, the Morgan County Master Gardeners Association passed a resolution recommending that the City adopt the redbud as the City tree.   On October 24, 2022, the City Common Council unanimously passed a modified version (Resolution # 2022-0023) to establish the Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis) as the City tree with the following major components:

  • The Eastern Redbud tree is native to Indiana, particularly Southern Indiana, and is known for its proliferation of red blooms in the spring and attractive foliage the rest of the year.
  • The tree is ideal for the urban setting, obtaining a maximum height of 15 to 25 feet and grows well in all soil types in full sun or part shade.
  • The tree is disease and insect-resistant, drought-tolerant, and can be pruned from a small shade tree to an attractive landscape plant.
  • There are currently many redbud trees in the city and additional trees can be obtained easily at little or no cost.

Master Gardeners have some helpful hints for residents that want to plant Redbud trees or enhance some they already have.  First, pick an open space in your yard with at least half-day sun.  Although the Redbud is an understory plant, the more light it is exposed to, the more foliage and blooms will develop. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball.  Fill the hole with loose soil and pack firmly.  Water liberally, both during and after planting.   Water frequently the first year to encourage the roots to develop.   Place something around the base of the tree to prevent damage from a weed trimmer.  If you have a deer problem, also add chicken wire around the plant.  Mulch and fertilizer are also recommended around the new tree.  Annual pruning of your tree is essential.  Allow only one trunk to develop.  Let the center leader grow, but trim off the lower branches depending on how much ground clearance you want.

There are many plantings of Redbuds around town that have been neglected.  Often they are multiple stems growing high with little foliage.  They can be rejuvenated by removing all the stems except the strongest one.  Allow all the branches that develop on the saved trunk to grow and continue to remove all the sucker growth from the roots.   Also, allow as much light as possible by removing overhanging branches and nearby weeds and shrubs.

*Eastern Redbud tree in author’s front yard

Next time you are in your yard or garden, give a thought to where an Eastern Redbud would add some spring color to your yard and the City.  County residents are also invited to add to the red this spring.