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Whitewater Weeping Redbud Tree

Late last fall I planted Cercis canadensis 'Whitewater' in the woodland garden. It was one of my more expensive internet purchases.  I was nervous about spending so much on a tree I had never seen. It arrived in a five gallon container, apparently healthy in its dormant condition. I was pleased with its weeping form and eagerly waited for it to wake up this spring.

And waited, and waited. I was seriously worried about it. I had planted it in good soil in a partially shaded spot. Perfect conditions. Finally, well into April, after every other tree had put out spring growth, I saw a few dark rose, pea-like flowers along its bare branches. Only a few, but it was promising. I can imagine how gorgeous it will be when it is covered with such flowers.

After the flowers, I waited some more. Finally, tiny leaves slowly began to appear. They were solid green. This was a disappointment, as Whitewater is noted for its fabulous variegated heart shaped foliage. But I was happy enough with its weeping habit, so I was going to love it even if the leaves were solid.

To my amazement, the leaves have grown to nearly the size of the palm of my hand, much larger than the wild redbuds that grow in my garden, and over time many of the leaves are acquiring beautiful variegated patterns.The leaves started out green, then developed splotches, which is opposite of what is advertised. Normally, they would emerge white or variegated, then gradually become solid green as the season progresses. My tree may be backwards, but I am loving it more every day!

Redbuds are North American natives, and this cultivar came out of North Carolina. It will grow in hardiness zones 6-9. Plant in fall or early spring in acid to slightly alkaline soil that is moist but well drained. It is best to water it well about once a week while it the roots are becoming established, but after that it can take occasional drought. 

Whitewater provides four seasons of interest with its lovely flowers, variegated foliage and striking weeping form. It will grow to about 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide. It is a unique specimen. I am looking forward to watching my little tree progress through the seasons this year, then seeing what it will do next year after it has had time to become well established.

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Reader Comments (19)

What a gorgeous redbud...I planted an eastern redbud but it did not make it...so I have another being nurtured as it starts to leaf out...it will be planted in early fall.

Love your little tree! I had Lavender Twist in my last garden but none here -yet. The adage that plants go through a sleep-creep-leap cycle seems to hold true so you may have to be patient a while longer!

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

My wife Myra is always going on about Cercis. Although we see them in the garden centre from time to time they are considered not to be hardy enough for here. Actually, I dont think its because the Winters are too cold, I think its more to do with our cool Spring and Summer...I think Whitewater is going to look amazing when mature.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlistair

Your new tree has fantastic foliage, and is so unusual in its variegation, I'm sure it will be very happy in your woodland. I will look forward to photos of its progress!

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpauline

I understand the apprehension of buying plants on-line but it looks as though you have a winner with this one. I'm sure it will be a great addition to your already spectacular garden.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

I love the variegation of the foliage of this tree Debs!

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Hi Deb
I quickly Googled Whitewater Weeping Redbud, worried that your leaves should have been deep purple but no…..all the Google Images look just like yours. Whew! The neat thing about Redbuds is that the small pink flower comes out before the leaves, so I worry that yours may only bloom next Spring.
Is that what you expected?

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAstrid

My favorite tree! Ours is showing signs of stress, and I am sad. I hope it bounces back with all the rain we're getting this spring. Symptoms of last year's drought are still with us, but I'm hopeful the trees will survive for many more years. Your variegated Redbud is spectacular!

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

I haven't seen this cultivar but the weeping redbud at the Chicago Botanic Garden is really gorgeous. Looks like yours is off to a great start.

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason

How nice you will have something to look forward to every spring; I love that it is variegated. Jeannine

June 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

It's always a great feeling when you start to worry that your plants are not doing well, and then they bounce back after Winter with more vigor than expected. Good luck with your tree, I'm sure it's set to look even more beautiful as we progress into Summer.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraziella

Love it! I have one Eastern Redbud my Dad dug up from his house and gave me. Miraculously, when the top of a dead tree which had been stuck by lightning years ago fell and destroyed the urn in our pond fountain, it fell right beside that litle fledgling redbud tree!

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJody Raines

Beautiful specimen, Deb! I'm not a fan of variegated leaves, as you may know, but I love them in your garden, they have an entirely different meaning in a shadow spot with a bold green and tall background. They make sense. Do you have any companion planting in mind for this little tree?

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlberto

I'm sure your patience will be rewarded. It must have been a typing error because it looks like the plant knows what it's doing.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

What a wonderful tree!! Glad it turned out to be what was promised.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

How odd that it emerged in such a slow and backward fashion. Plants are individuals just as we are, and some just do things their own way. What a beauty it will be, and I know your spot will show it off perfectly.

June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

What a delightful looking tree, those leaves are so pretty. I'm sure you're very happy it turned out as you'd hoped.

I actually found one at a local nursery last year and bought it (this cultivar was actually developed in North Carolina). It is such a beautiful tree! I put it in a particular tough, shady corner of my yard full of clay. I was really worried it would die last year with the terrible heat and then some drainage problems that that area of my yard had, but it came back strong this spring. It seems to be pretty hardy like redbuds are. Sadly, it was another beautiful plant that I left when we moved. Enjoy yours!

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

That's a redbud worth waiting for. Now that I've seen it, I want, no *need* that tree. Enjoy!

June 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLee May
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