The redbud tree, Cercis canadensis, can be propagated with great success from cuttings or seedlings. Young redbud trees will flower before they are seven years old, but will only bear fruit once they mature, at seven to eight years of age, so incorporate this into your long-term landscaping plan. Here are some things you should know before you begin propagating your redbud tree.
Propagate the Redbud from Cuttings
Step 1 - Select and Make a Redbud Tree Cutting
In early June, after flowering and leaf production, select a healthy redbud tree with lateral branches at least four inches in diameter. Cut an 18-inch segment well above any branch junctions to ensure limb regeneration. Make as small an angled cut as possible. Clean the wound with an antifungal preparation to prevent infection.
Step 2 - Prepare the Cutting for Propagation
Divide the cutting into three sections that are each six inches long. Remove 1/2 inch of the bark at one tip of each section.
Place these sections in a warm sandy soil, 72 degrees F (20 C), for four weeks. Cuttings from redbud trees will root quickly. Plant in potting medium when the roots appear. They need four more weeks in potting soil to develop strong tap roots. Plant shortly after full root development, to enable the long tap roots to stabilize before frost.
Propagate Redbud and Eastern Redbud from Seeds
Step 1 - Harvest Seeds
All redbud trees generate long bean like seed pods. Collect several from a tree that has plenty.
Remove the seeds from the pods.
Step 2 - How to Remove Seeds from Pods
While the seed pods will split open under finger pressure, the durable seed covers themselves will not.
Test the seeds for fertility by putting them in a glass of water before opening the covers. Those that float are infertile, so you can dispose of them. Retain those that sank, and separate the seed covers. Nick or slash the seed covers with a sharp knife, or rub them with coarse grade sandpaper to penetrate the covers.
Alternatively, soak the seeds in a solution of sulfuric acid at a high concentration for 30 minutes. Do this in a well-vented space, or under a fume hood with the fan on high speed to prevent eye, nose, and throat damage.
Rinse the seeds under warm water and pat them dry with a lint-free towel.
Step 3 - Ready the Seeds for Propagation
Lay the seeds out in a flat glass dish or pan and pour in enough boiling water to immerse them fully. Allow them to soak in the water overnight, letting the water cool off. Put the seeds in a sealable plastic bag with some vermiculite or other potting medium (not soil) and refrigerate at 40 degrees F (4 C) until early spring. The seeds need time to propagate in a cool moist environment to germinate successfully.