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How to Grow Cercis occidentalis Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing California Redbud

The Cercis occidentalis plant belongs to the Fabaceae family and so is clidly related to beans, peas and other members of the legumes.

The plant is native to the southwestern states of the USA, especuially Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. It carries attrctive pink flowers on clusters in the spring months. It makes a great small tree to grow in a southwestern USA garden.

California Redbud

Botanical Cercis occidentalis photograph by Bri Weldon.

This ornamental plant has attractive leaves that change to a golden or red color once the weather has started to cool down. It makes a great drought tolerant plant.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific name: Cercis occidentalis
  • Common Name (s): California redbud, Western redbud
  • Growing Zone (USA Hardiness): 7 to 9

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle/Type: Large shrub, tree, Perennial
  • Plant Height: up to 18 feet (5.5 meters)
  • Plant Spread: 6 to 8 feet (180 to 240 cm)
  • Blooms: Spring and early summer
  • Flower Details: Pink, purple, magenta. Small. Clusters. Requires winter chill.
  • Leaf Foliage Details: Heart shaped. Shiny. Light green leaves turn to red or gold when temperatures start to cool down.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Sunny, likes afternoon shade
  • Suitable Soil Types: Average, clay
  • Soil Moisture: Tolerates dry soils. Provide water in the summer for better results. Supply water in desert regions.
  • Soil pH: 5 to 7 (tolerates alkaline soil)
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Requires four seasons. Protect young seedlings from freezing temperatures (hardy after about three years)

Further Information

  • Best used in: dry slopes near a water source, wildlife gardens, areas with little rainfall or water supply
  • Miscellaneous: brown / red-purple legume seed pods. Drought tolerant. Attracts bees, great as part of a wildlife garden. traditionally used to weave baskets. Prune to encourage further twigs. Bark used to produce a red dye.
  • Family : Fabaceae / Caesalpiniaceae
  • Closely related species and genera: Eastern Redbud and Judas Tree; and membes of the Bean Family.
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  • Further Reading and References used: Wikipedia; USDA


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Common Garden Species
Index – C

Camellia japonica

Cenolophium denudatum

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Cercis canadensis

Cercis occidentalis

Cercis siliquastrum

Cornus kousa

Cornus florida

Cupressus sempervirens

Cyclamen persicum

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