How to Grow Cercis siliquastrum Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Judas Tree, Mediterranean Redbud

The Cercis siliquastrum plant is a deciduous tree that is native to the Mediterranean regions of Europe, West Asia, and North Africa.

It has attractive flowers. These are deep purplish pink, pea-shaped, and displayed on bare branches and even the trunk in early spring.

Once the flowers have finished blooming bronze red cordate leaves appear; these gradually turn to dark green as they mature. During the senescence process in the autumn the leaves will turn from yellow to reddish-brown chestnut in colour.

Judas Tree

Cercis in bloom photograph by Wouter Hagens; CC.

Trees are typically quite small in size reaching about 40 feet (12 m) in height.

These trees are pollinated by bees, so are a good plant to grow if you are living in an areas where the local bee population is struggling.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Cercis siliquastrum
  • Common Name (s): Judas tree, Love tree, Mediterranean redbud
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 5 to 9 / H5

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Deciduous tree. Bushy.
  • Plant Height: 15 to 40 feet (4.5 to 12 m).
  • Plant Spread: 15 to 32 inches (4.5 to 10 m).
  • Blooms: Spring. On bare branches and the trunk.
  • Flower Details: Pea-like. Deep Pink-purple. 3/4 inch (1.75 cm) long.
  • Leaf Foliages: Heart-shaped, but rounded. Appears after blooming. Change colour with the seasons: Spring: bronze red. Summer: Dark Green. Autumn: yellow through to chestnut.
  • Fruit: Pods, flattened, Deep purple. 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12 cm). Seed pods are similar in appearance to a weaver’s shuttle.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full Sunlight to Partial Shade.
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well drained. Average soils. Fertile soils for best results.
  • Suitable Soil pH: Most soils, can tolerate heavily alkaline soils.
  • Soil Soil Moisture: Medium to dry.
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Propagate by taking semi-ripe cuttings at the end of summer or beginning of autumn. For sowing: First collect fresh seeds and dry inside. Seeds have a hard coating so nick several times with a knife. Place seeds in a seed tray containing sand; cover seed tray and stratify / imbibe in the fridge for six to eight weeks. Next sow the imbibed seeds outdoors in a cold frame in the middle of spring; about 1/4 inch (0.7 cm) deep. Over sow as germination can be poor.
  • Care: Low maintenance. Light pruning to remove dead and damaged tissue at the end of winter. Water and fertilize regularly to encourage vigorous growth and prevent disease and pest related issues.

Further Information

  • Best used for: Attracting Butterflies and Bees and other wildlife to the garden, Looks great in small groups but can be grown as single attractive flowering tree, borders, streets.
  • Miscellaneous: Deer tolerant plant. The tree gets its name after Judas Iscariot who is thought to have hanged himself on a tree of this species.
  • Family: Fabaceae (Sub-family: Caesalpiniaceae).
  • As a member of the legume family it is closely related to genera such as: How to grow peas; Chickpea; Lathyrus; Sprouting Mung Beans. It is also closely related to the Eastern Redbud and California Redbud trees.
  • Further Reading and References used Cercis siliquastrum: PFAF Database; SFgate.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Cercis siliquastrum plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Parochetus and Baptisia plants.