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Oklahoma Redbud vs Eastern Redbud: 7 Major Differences

The Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud are both captivating flowering trees, but they have distinct differences.

The Oklahoma Redbud, known for its resilience, has glossy, thicker leaves and a more compact growth habit, making it well-suited for harsher conditions. Its flowers are a vivid deep pink. On the other hand, the Eastern Redbud, a classic in eastern U.S. landscapes, boasts heart-shaped leaves that are thinner and larger, with a lighter pink bloom.

While both share the spectacular spring bloom trait, their leaf texture, bloom color intensity, and growth patterns set them apart.

Oklahoma Redbud vs Eastern Redbud

Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud

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

Blooming

Redbuds, both Oklahoma and Eastern varieties, start flowering in late spring, even before their leaves appear. However, there are notable differences between the blooms of these two types.

Eastern Redbud flowers are roughly half an inch across, typically in clusters of four to eight, featuring light pink petals.

In contrast, Oklahoma Redbud flowers are of similar size, but they form in denser clusters of 10-12. This compact growth results in a greater number of flowers.

A key distinction is in the petal color. Oklahoma Redbud’s petals are a vibrant violet-pink, noticeably darker and more vivid than the Eastern Redbud’s.

Consequently, the Oklahoma Redbud presents a brighter and fuller appearance during its bloom period. This standout vibrancy and denser flowering have made it a preferred choice among gardeners.

Frost Tolerance

The Eastern Redbud is notably more cold-tolerant. It thrives in a wide range of climates, from USDA hardiness zone 4 in the colder north to zone 9 in the warmer south, making it suitable for cultivation across most of the United States.

This plant withstands frost, snow, and cold winds well and can even recover from frost damage, such as unexpected early or late freezes.

In contrast, the Oklahoma Redbud is less resilient to frost, limiting its growth to regions no colder than zone 6. This restriction means that it’s not an option for many gardeners in the colder parts of the US.

For those living in colder regions, choosing the Eastern Redbud, or another similar variety with greater frost resistance, is a wise decision.

Size and Shape

The size and shape of a plant can vary widely based on its growing conditions and other factors. When grown under similar conditions, Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud will exhibit distinct shapes and sizes.

The Eastern Redbud can easily reach heights of 20 feet or more, with some even growing up to 30 feet. Its width generally matches its height, giving it a roughly spherical shape.

In contrast, the Oklahoma Redbud tends to be more compact. It typically grows to about 18 feet in height and can spread out to a width of 20 feet, making it broader than it is tall.

Additionally, the Oklahoma Redbud often has a bushier appearance. This is due to its tendency to have several trunks of similar thickness rather than a single, dominant central trunk.

Leaves

Oklahoma Redbud vs Eastern Redbud leaves

Oklahoma Redbud and Eastern Redbud leaves

Another significant distinction between these plants lies in their foliage. The Eastern Redbud features heart-shaped leaves, each about 5 inches long and wide. These leaves are a light to regular green and have a matte finish, resembling the foliage of many other trees.

The Oklahoma Redbud, however, boasts more ornamental foliage. Its leaves are a darker green, adding a unique visual appeal. Moreover, they have a glossy surface, lending them a shiny appearance. Their size is comparable to that of the Eastern Redbud.

Additionally, the leaves of the Oklahoma Redbud are thicker and sturdier, maintaining their shape well in various weather conditions, including rain and wind. This resilience ensures that the leaves consistently present a beautiful appearance.

Origin

The Cercis canadensis, commonly known as the Eastern Redbud. This species is widely found in the wilderness across much of the United States.

The Cercis canadensis var. texensis ‘Oklahoma’, a subspecies of Cercis canadensis. While it originates from the wilderness of Oklahoma, it has been classified as a distinct subspecies due to certain unique characteristics.

Drought Tolerance

Many gardeners observe that the Eastern Redbud is susceptible to moisture deficiency, particularly in young plants that haven’t yet fully rooted.

Conversely, the Oklahoma Redbud tends to be more drought-tolerant. While it still requires watering, it generally withstands dry conditions better than its Eastern counterpart.

For both plants, regular watering during the first 3-5 years after planting is crucial for their growth. If there’s no rain for over a week, prioritize watering the Eastern Redbud. The required water volume depends on the plant’s size, ranging from 1 to 2 gallons.

The Oklahoma Redbud needs less frequent watering. During periods of drought, watering once every ten days is usually sufficient. The quantity of water needed is similar to that for the Eastern Redbud.

Price

Typically, the Eastern Redbud is more budget-friendly and widely available in most garden centers, making it an affordable option.

In contrast, the Oklahoma Redbud is prized for its superior decorative attributes, resulting in a price that’s about 15-25% higher than the Eastern Redbud.

Additionally, the Oklahoma Redbud can be harder to find for sale. Its increased popularity often leads to it being out of stock in nurseries and online plant stores.