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Forest Pansy Redbud vs Eastern Redbud: What’s The Difference?

The Redbud tree, celebrated for its vibrant blooms, holds a cherished spot in the gardens of numerous homeowners. In this discussion, we’ll explore and contrast two widely favored varieties of this delightful tree.

The Forest Pansy Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) and Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) differ primarily in leaf color and growth habit. The Forest Pansy has reddish-purple leaves that mature to deep maroon, while the Eastern Redbud has traditional green leaves. The Forest Pansy often displays a more compact and occasionally weeping growth habit, whereas the Eastern Redbud is more upright and spreading.

Forest Pansy Redbud vs Eastern Redbud

Forest Pansy Redbud and Eastern Redbud

Forest Pansy Redbud Eastern Redbud
Hardiness zone 5-9 4-9
Mature height 20-30′ (6-9 m) 20-30′ (6-9 m)
Mature width 25-35′ (7.5-10.5 m) 20-30′ (6-9 m)
Growth rate fast fast
Light exposure full sun, partial shade full sun, partial shade
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 6.0-7.0 6.0-7.0
Watering One time per week in a drought One time per week in a drought
Diseases fungus, root rot fungus, root rot
Pests insects, mites insects, mites

The color of their flowers is different

The Eastern Redbud heralds spring with its pink blossoms, flowering for just over two weeks. Meanwhile, the Forest Pansy Redbud, blooming concurrently, showcases flowers with a distinct purple hue, which can vary in intensity.

The Forest Pansy Redbud’s blooms offer a slightly more intriguing color variation than its counterpart. However, it falls short in the quantity of its flowers compared to the Eastern Redbud, which tends to flower more profusely.

Deciding which blooms more impressively is subjective. Some may favor the unique purple of the Forest Pansy, while others might appreciate the Eastern Redbud’s more lavish floral display. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference between subtle color nuances and the sheer volume of blossoms.

They have different leaves

The Forest Pansy Redbud boasts more ornamental leaves than the Eastern Redbud. These leaves emerge as a vibrant purple in early spring, transitioning to a burgundy hue with possible red undertones by mid-summer, and finally turning yellow in the fall.

In contrast, the leaves of the Eastern Redbud start as a bright green in spring, gradually shifting to a pale green or sometimes a brownish-green, before also changing to yellow in autumn.

Moreover, the leaves of the Forest Pansy Redbud are slightly longer, averaging around 6 inches, compared to the 4-5 inches typical of Eastern Redbud leaves.

Overall, the Forest Pansy Redbud’s leaves maintain a decorative appeal throughout the season, a quality that the Eastern Redbud’s foliage does not equally match.

Forest Pansy Redbud vs Eastern Redbud leaves

Forest Pansy Redbud and Eastern Redbud leaves.

Growth Habit and Size

The Forest Pansy Redbud often exhibits a more compact and occasionally weeping growth habit. This gives it a somewhat more graceful and less uniform appearance compared to the Eastern Redbud.
Its branches might spread out more horizontally, which contributes to its slightly weeping or cascading look.

Typically, Forest Pansy Redbuds reach about 20-30 feet in height. Their spread can be similar in size to their height, but this can vary depending on the specific growing conditions and pruning practices.

The Eastern Redbud generally has a more upright and spreading habit. This classic tree shape involves a central trunk with branches that extend outward and upward. It tends to be more uniform and symmetrical compared to the Forest Pansy, giving it a traditional tree silhouette.

The Eastern Redbud also typically reaches heights of 20-30 feet, similar to the Forest Pansy.
However, it often has a wider spread, which can make it appear fuller and more robust. The spread can sometimes exceed its height, depending on the environment.

Eastern Redbud has better frost tolerance

The Eastern Redbud boasts greater resistance to colder temperatures, making it a favorite among gardeners in hardiness zones 4-9. It can endure temperatures as low as -21F.

In contrast, the Forest Pansy Redbud is typically recommended for zones 5 through 9. However, there have been instances where this variety suffered in zone 5 due to intense, though brief, cold spells causing irreversible damage.

Consequently, the Eastern Redbud currently holds an advantage, especially in terms of adaptability to the northern United States climate. This makes it a more accessible option for a broader range of gardeners.

Sunlight tolerance

The Forest Pansy Redbud is somewhat less tolerant of full, intense sunlight compared to the Eastern Redbud. In regions with hot summers, it may require some protection from the harsh afternoon sun to prevent leaf scorch. This is particularly important for maintaining the vibrant color of its leaves.

It thrives best in partial shade to partial sun conditions, where it receives a mix of sun and shade throughout the day.

The Eastern Redbud is more adaptable and can tolerate a wider range of sunlight conditions, including full sun. It is more resilient in handling intense sunlight and can be planted in areas that receive full sun throughout the day without as much risk of leaf scorch or stress.

It also performs well in partial shade, making it versatile for various garden locations.