(Image credit: Fabiano Lacerda Dossanto)

Eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) are delightful in the backyard or garden with their clouds of pink blooms in springtime. These trees are native to North America, which means they are undemanding and grow readily in appropriate locations.

While it’s not a good idea to transplant a mature redbud tree unless absolutely necessary, it is entirely possible to dig up seedlings to transplant into your landscape. Read on for tips for transplanting redbud trees.

Redbud Tree Transplant

In early spring, redbud trees light up the forest with their magical clusters of purple-pink pea-like flowers. They appear on the naked branches of these deciduous trees in early April before the foliage emerges. After the flowers, heart-shaped green leaves appear.

In the wild, eastern redbud is usually found as an understory tree in moist soil along rivers or streams or in the forest shade. Generally, redbuds thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. Although the trees tolerate a wide range of well-draining soils and temperatures, it’s always best to pick local seeds or seedlings to be sure that the tree will thrive in your location. 

Redbud Tree Transplant Shock

It is difficult to transplant a mature redbud tree once it has a fully developed root system. You may need to try if it is very unhappy where it is planted. But it’s far better to get it right the first time since redbud tree transplant shock frequently kills these outstanding ornamentals. 

This is not a problem if you change the location of a redbud when it is very small and before the root system has developed. For example, if you have a redbud tree in your neighborhood, it is very likely you will get a few redbud shoots in your yard every year. Dig one up and move it to a new location. 

How to Transplant Redbud Tree

Before you dig up the shoot, select a new growing location. They prefer a location with some sun and well-draining soil. If your summers are hot, pick a spot with afternoon shade.

When to transplant redbud trees? You can transplant young trees that you buy in containers all year long, but all transplants do best in spring or fall. Work the soil in the new location first, adding organic material. These trees do best with light, rich, moist soil. Don’t forget to water the newly transplanted tree regularly until its root system has established.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.