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.