Why is my redbud tree not blooming? In this article, we will be looking at all the reasons redbud trees don’t bloom and the solutions if there are any. Hopefully, after reading this, you’d see a clear pathway to redemption for the redbud tree and finally getting the last piece of your dream lawn or garden.
Chances are, you’ve dreamt of having the perfect redbud tree. With its dazzling spring blooms of rose-purple flowers (or white, lavender, purple, or pink flowers in some varieties), it’s quite easy to get why anybody would be passionate about growing it.
So the effort you put in to ensure you get a blooming redbud at the expected time is understandable. And this could also explain why you are reading this; your redbud tree is not blooming and you want answers fast.
Why is My Redbud Tree Not Blooming?
Redbuds are very popular garden or lawn trees. Also known as Judas tree (Judas Iscariot apparently hung himself from the branch of one) they grow to a height of about 20 – 30 feet with a limb spread of up to 30 feet.
There are several varieties of redbuds with different growth rates. Most redbud trees grow best in the area they are native to. Essentially, in terms of blooming, this means if you want the best from it, plant one that was seeded in the region you are located.
This makes it important to check the growing zone you belong to before choosing the type of redbud tree to grow. Because choosing the wrong redbud variety for your hardiness zone might be the reason it is not blooming.
Basically, if all the growth conditions are right, there is literally no reason your redbud tree shouldn’t bloom. And What are the conditions necessary for optimal growth? Let’s have a look at some of them.
Redbud Tress Growth Conditions
Redbuds are generally understory trees. In their natural environment (the forest, for instance), they grow best under the shade of bigger or taller trees such as oak and maple trees.
Before planting, check that the redbud variety is suitable for your growing zone. This varies between the different types of redbuds.
The plants are super adaptable to different light conditions, climates, and soil. They flourish in full sunlight or partially shaded areas. Ideally, they’d grow quickly and bloom extensively in more sunlight.
Though they are adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions, they’d love it best if the soil is moist and has good drainage. It is important to ensure the soil is not saturated with water when the plant is still young and trying to get established.
Some crucial redbud tree growing tips include:
Mulch – Just a bit of mulch (about 3 inches) around the primary trunk is okay. This helps to retain moisture. But do ensure the mulch doesn’t touch the tree
Pruning – To promote the redbud’s natural growth pattern, it is advisable to prune in the fall. Cut off all dead branches.
Canker problems or tree borers – These problems occasionally come up. Before treatment, it is important to get a proper diagnosis first.
Reasons Your Redbud Tree is Not Blooming
Your redbud is not matured
If you are doing everything right and the redbug refused to bloom, the most likely reason is that it is yet to reach maturity. Like most plants, it takes a tremendous amount of plant energy and resources to attain the requisite level of maturity necessary for redbuds to bloom.
Generally, redbud trees should start blooming from 4 – 6 years depending on the variety and the growing conditions. By late winter or early spring each year after it reaches maturity, the beautiful flowers should be covering the tree like a canopy
In this case, what you and the tree need is a little more patience. As the proud plant parent, simply keep up the maintenance schedule
It’s getting too much shade
Too much shade in the backyard or garden could be why your redbud is unhappy.
Though it’s an understory tree and therefore shade tolerant, it is quite easy to miss the point here and define shade tolerant in human terms.
Fact is, while it is shade tolerant, it prefers full sun and partial shade to bloom at the right time. To be clear, It is not a case of either ‘full sun’ or ‘partial shade’. Both conditions have to be present daily.
In practical terms, it should get 4 – 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight daily. In the heat of summer, it would need that in addition to some shade. Essentially, your redbud would grow in a shady area, but when it comes to heavy blooming, exposure to sunlight is key.
If there are lower hanging branches of bigger trees in your backyard that provide too much shade, it might be a good idea to take off some of them. This allows more sunlight to filter to the redbud below.
The amount of nitrogen in the soil is also worth considering when investigating why your redbud isn’t blooming.
Excess soil nitrogen in the garden or lawn typically comes from fertilizer. The high nitrogen content is needed to promote the growth of green lawn grass. However, this nitrogen is bad for redbud blooming.
This is why.
Redbud belongs to the legume plant family that can naturally take care of their nitrogen needs. This nitrogen is needed for normal growth. When there is too much nitrogen in the soil, the redbud concentrates on the production of leaves and delays flowering.
The recommended solution is to quit using fertilizers with high nitrogen content on your lawn or garden if you must apply fertilizer on your grass. Ideally, you should stop and then wait for the excess nitrogen to get flushed out of the soil by rain or get used up by other plants.
Hopefully, your redbud should start blooming by next spring as long as it is already matured
The activities of many insects are also known to prevent redbud blooming. The most common insects include tree hoppers, scales, and spider mites.
Scale insects like honeydew, for instance, feed on redbud sap causing leaves to yellow and prevent buds from blooming. Often mistaken as part of the plant, they appear as waxy or crusty bumps on the plant.
If you suspect scale insects, we recommend using neem oil or a good garden spray oil specifically formulated for the control of insects and other pests.
Spider mites however cause the most damage. They multiply exponentially depriving the plant of the much-needed nutrients. The damage appears in the form of yellowish bite marks at the top and bottom of the leaves. It gets even worse in summer as they quickly defoliate the whole tree.
To examine the tree for spider mites, use a magnifying glass to check the underside of leaves. If there is a mite attack, they’d appear like ground pepper. Or you could hold a sheet of clean white paper under a group of leaves. Then shake the leaves vigorously. You’ll see the mites as they drop on the paper.
You can use plant insecticide spray to control spider mites. Ensure the underside of the leaves is sprayed too.
Redbud diseases like canker and verticillium wilt can also be the reason your redbud isn’t blooming.
Canker – It is a fungal infection also known as dieback. It is recognized by the visible cankers on branches or dark craters with even darker centers. it is the most destructive of the diseases and is first seen when the leaves wilt and turn yellowish or brown.
At the height of the infection, it can block the redbud’s vascular system to prevent the flow of water and nutrients.
The best solution for an affected tree is to prune infected branches to halt the spread. All tools used in the pruning must be properly sanitized after the job is done to prevent spreading the disease.
You can also spray both healthy and diseased plants with an effective fungicide to complement the pruning.
Verticillium wilt – This fungal disease is also very common and is known to infect a large number of trees including redbud. Extensive infestation ultimately blocks the vascular system to prevent the movement of nutrients and water around the tree.
The first symptoms of the disease include random and spotty yellowing and browning of the leaves.
Fixing and controlling the disease is through pruning, fertilizing, and watering. Pruning involves trimming affected branches while the use of slow-release fertilizer to help revitalize the dying plant is strongly recommended. Finally, deep water the plant at least twice a week.
The inability of your redbud tree to bloom can leave you confused and more than a little disappointed after looking forward to having the beautiful flowers add a fairy-like feel to your garden.
Often, the failure of the redbud tree to bloom can be down to the tree’s immaturity. Basically, it is simply not yet matured for the buds to start opening up and turning into flowers. Patience is required here.
However, factors such as too much shade, excessive nitrogen in the soil, and some diseases could also be responsible. Finding the solution starts with properly identifying the cause of the problem. The fix can be pretty straightforward after the correct diagnosis.