Propagation & Seed Starting

How to Grow Redbud Trees from Seeds

After a long, cold, and snowy winter there is no more welcome sign of spring than a redbud tree with its branches covered in thousands of delicate lavender blossoms. Redbud trees are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring and they are also quite easy to grow from seeds.

Eastern redbud trees are hardy to zones 4-9 and are found in the wild across much of the eastern United States and as far west as Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The Latin name for this native tree is Cercis Canadensis. Redbuds will grow in either full sun or partial shade and they make excellent ornamental trees that require very little care.

Very soon it will be time to start the simple process of growing redbuds from seed, so look around for a redbud tree in your neighborhood. Each redbud seedpod contains anywhere from four to ten flattened round seeds. The seeds may be collected in the fall before the pods drop from the tree, but often the pods remain on redbud trees into the winter.

If you want to try growing redbud trees from seed, gather the seeds from the pods and store them in a sealed jar within the refrigerator.  Around Valentine’s Day, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and rough them up a bit between two pieces of sandpaper.  This process will begin to remove some of the tough outer layer of the seeds and will aid in germination.  Once you see that some of the outer layer has been sanded off the seeds, they are ready for the next step.

Boil some water, remove the pan from the heat and place the seeds in the water.  Allow them to soak in this water for 3-4 days. This step will further soften the seed coat.

Once the seeds have been treated, they can be planted a quarter inch deep in small containers of moist sand or potting soil. For the next 5-8 weeks, keep the planted seeds cool in the refrigerator or an unheated garage.  This will be an imitation winter for the seeds. If you live in an area with cold winters, the seeds in their pots can be planted outdoors, but cover them with wire mesh so critters cannot dig them up.

After the chilling period, the potted seeds may be kept outdoors, and the seeds will begin to germinate when warm spring weather arrives. Once the seedlings have produced their first set of heart-shaped leaves, the little redbud trees may be planted in a permanent location in well draining soil.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at and read his blog at

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