Oklahoma Redbud vs Eastern Redbud: So What’s The Difference?


Flowering trees are something special, even if their flowers are not as big as annuals. A single tree can provide a huge number, albeit small, but gorgeous flowers.

Redbud has a special place in American gardens because of its ornamental qualities. It is valued on a par with such plants as magnolia, cherry blossom, and others.

Today’s two competitors are related plants that have both similarities and differences.

The first is Cercis canadesnsis (Eastern redbud). This is a species plant that is common in much of the U.S. wilderness.

The second is Cercis canadensis reniformis Oklahoma, which is a subspecies of Cercis canadensis. It has also been found in the Oklahoma wilderness, but it has been separated into a subspecies form due to some features. These features will be discussed in this article.

Oklahoma Redbud Eastern Redbud
USDA Hardiness zone 6-9 4-9
Mature height 12-18′ (3.6-5.4 m) 20-30′ (6-9 m)
Mature width 16-22′ (4.8-6.6 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

 

Oklahoma redbud blooms more spectacularly

Redbud starts blooming in the second half of spring before the leaves even unfold. But there are some differences between Oklahoma redbud and Eastern redbud flowers.

Eastern redbud flowers are about half an inch in size. The flower clusters have four to eight flowers. The color of the petals is light pink.

Oklahoma redbud has the same size flowers as its competitor, but the clusters have 10-12 flowers. Besides, the clusters grow a little more compact, which is why their number is larger.

The second difference is the color. The petals of Oklahoma redbud are violet-pink, and they are a little darker and much more intense than those of Eastern redbud.

As a result, Oklahoma redbud looks much brighter and fluffier during blooming than its competitor. It is these characteristics that were the primary reason for selecting this plant among the others.

Eastern redbud more frost tolerant

Eastern redbud tolerates low temperatures much better. It can be grown from the 4 USDA hardiness zone in the north to the 9 in the south. It can be grown throughout almost all over the United States.

This plant is not afraid of frost, snow, and cold winds. It can even recover from frost damage if that happens for any reason. For example, from early or late frosts.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma redbud is not as frost-resistant, so that it can be grown no further north than zone 6. This means that it is not available to a large number of gardeners in the US.

If you live up north, you should definitely prefer Eastern redbud or look towards another similar cultivar with better frost tolerance.

Size and shape are different

The plant’s size and shape vary greatly depending on growing conditions and some other factors. However, under the same conditions, Oklahoma redbud and Eastern redbud will have different shapes and sizes.

Eastern redbud can easily reach 20 feet in height or more. Some specimens can be 30 feet tall. The plant’s width is about the same as the height, meaning the tree is more or less spherical in shape.

Oklahoma redbud is a bit more compact. It usually grows to 18 feet in height and very rarely to 20 feet. Its width is more significant than its height and reaches 20 feet.

Oklahoma redbud is also often bushy, meaning the central trunk is weakly defined. Instead, there are several trunks of about equal thickness.

From the above, it follows that Oklahoma redbud is better suited for more compact yards and gardens.

Oklahoma redbud leaves darker

Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud leaves
Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud leaves

The next big difference between these plants is the foliage. Eastern redbud has heart-shaped leaves 5 inches long and about the same width. They are light green to green in color and have a matte surface. The foliage is no different from that of most trees.

Oklahoma redbud, on the other hand, has much more decorative foliage. Firstly because they are dark green in color, which gives them unique interest. Secondly, the leaves have a glossy surface, which makes them shiny. Their size is the same as that of the competitor.

Also, the Oklahoma redbud leaves are thicker and more robust, and they hold their shape better. Whether it’s raining or windy, the leaves will always look beautiful.

Oklahoma redbud foliage is much more decorative because of all its advantages. Eastern redbud is the clear loser here.

Eastern redbud is less drought tolerant

Many gardeners claim that Eastern redbud is sensitive to lack of moisture. This is especially true for young plants that are not yet fully established.

On the other hand, Oklahoma redbud is rarely affected by drought. This does not mean it does not need watering, but it still copes better with a lack of rain than a competitor.

Both of these plants need watering for the first 3-5 years after planting to thrive. If it hasn’t rained for more than a week, you need to water the Eastern redbud first. The amount of water depends on the plant’s size and can vary from 1 to 3 gallons or more.

Oklahoma redbud needs watering a little less frequently. Once every ten days during a drought will be enough. The amount of water is the same as in the first case.

Oklahoma redbud more expensive

In general, Eastern redbud is a more affordable plant, and it can be found in almost every garden center. Accordingly, its price is not very high.

On the other hand, the Oklahoma redbud is more valuable because of its better decorative qualities. The price of this tree is about 15-25% higher than the Eastern redbud.

Also, this Oklahoma redbud is not very easy to find on sale. Due to increased demand, this plant is often unavailable at nurseries or online plant stores.

Similarities

Despite significant differences, Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud have much in common.

First of all, these plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. The further north you live, the more light you must provide for them. Redbuds may not bloom or bloom poorly if there is not enough light.

You can trim these trees from time to time to give them shape, but generally, they don’t need to be cut every year. Also, don’t forget to remove any dry branches.

You will need to feed the redbuds to get them to bloom well. One feeding per year will be enough. Use a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. Avoid fertilizers with a high nitrogen content because this type of fertilizer stimulates leaf growth, not flower growth.

It is also a good idea to treat your trees with disease and pest control products. Neem oil is best for this, as it can handle most threats. For more serious protection, use professional protection products.

Igor Viznyy

Hi friends, I have been growing plants for many years and love doing it. You can find more information on the page About Author.

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