A cultivar of eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), Forest Pansy differs from other redbuds in producing vivid wine-purple leaves in spring when they first emerge and grow. This tree also dons many tiny violet-pink flowers in spring. By the onset of summer, the mature heart-shaped leaves are more green than purple or burgundy, and eventually the green leaves only occasionally display a blush of purple. In autumn the leaves turn yellow. Plant the tree anytime the soil isn't frozen.
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Forest Pansy redbud is sold most often as a container-grown tree in any variety of plant heights and container volumes. A nursery might also sell the plant balled and burlapped if it was recently dug from a production field. Mail-order nurseries may also sell small bare-root saplings, but that's usually not the case.
You may plant a container-grown or balled and burlapped redbud tree anytime the garden soil is not frozen. Gardeners typically try to plant when soil isn't dry and weather isn't hot so the burden on roots to absorb moisture is reduced. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 and 6, where winters are extremely cold, planting in early spring is ideal. In USDA zones 7 through 9, fall planting is preferred because it avoids the summer heat and roots continue to grow in the moist soil over the milder winter. Plant bare-root plants in very early spring.
Proper site selection for the Forest Pansy redbud helps root establishment and encourages healthy growth and a long lifespan for the tree. Redbud trees naturally are woodland plants and thus are exposed to lots of sunlight from fall to early spring to help with flowering development, but then they're in partial sun to partial shade during the heat of summer. Choose a fertile, organic-rich garden soil location. Pansy redbuds are tolerant of a wide array of soils, but a moist, well-drained soil that's neutral to slightly acidic in pH is best. Avoid hot, dry and wind-exposed locations.
For the first two to three years after planting, it's important to monitor the soil environment around the Forest Pansy redbud. Irrigate to keep the newly planted root ball evenly moist, especially during the first 12 months. Supplement rainfall and irrigate to prevent any drought stress as the young tree begins to increase its growth. Place a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch broadly around the tree under its branch canopy to deter weeds and conserve soil moisture. In some regions, you may need to cage the trunk to prevent hungry gnawing rodents from damaging the bark during the winter.
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