What To Plant Under Redbud Trees [Flowers, Grass, & More!]
Deciding where and how you want to add plants throughout your garden can be challenging. Do you have a redbud tree you want to add some color to but have no idea what plants will grow best under it?
Is it okay to plant something under a tree at all? We will answer these questions and more below!
For those with a redbud tree, there are various plants that you can grow under it. A few of our favorites include moss phlox (Phlox subulata), Virginia bluebells, Evergreen candytuft, Spotted dead-nettle, wild blue phlox, and even daffodils.
Considering whatever you plant will need to be shade/moisture tolerant, make sure to find suitable options before doing any digging.
Although growing plants below a redbud tree is possible, you don't want to plant any that won't survive.
As we begin, we will cover all things redbuds and discuss how to grow plants beneath yours. Whether you want to add color to your garden or are just curious, we're here to help. With that said, let's get right into this topic!
Can You Grow Plants Under A Redbud Tree?
Yes! As long as the plants you choose aren't invasive and can handle a bit of extra shade and moisture, this should be a great idea. Considering that most trees create shade with their canopy, it's vital to find plants that don't mind a lack of constant (or any) sun.
Redbuds generally have somewhat dense foliage, meaning the ground beneath them won't get much sunlight throughout the day.
This can be a serious issue for most plants, which is why finding ones to plant under a redbud can be tricky. On the other hand, if you have a super bright garden, the sun may still be able to shine through your tree onto the ground, but this can be hit or miss.
In addition, you want to make sure you don't introduce too much competition below a redbud. Even though colorful flowering plants alongside a redbud can make for a picture-perfect backyard, having too many root systems together can create a mess.
Unfortunately, when too many plants are close to each other, they will often fight for natural resources. For example, if you plant a ground-covering flower with invasive roots under a redbud, your tree will likely sense the invasion and kill your flowers.
What Type Of Plants Will Grow Underneath A Redbud Tree?
Now that you know the basics, it's time to find plants for your redbud's base. Generally, you need to choose a non-invasive, ground-covering plant to grow under a redbud, as it won't mind the shade.
As we mentioned earlier, these include:
- Moss phlox
- Virginia bluebells
- Evergreen candytuft
- Spotted dead-nettles
- Wild blue phlox
Of course, you don't need to choose from these options, but these plants are all great options below a tree's canopy. Wildflower.org also recommends American beautyberries and Texas sacahuista under a redbud or sycamore tree, so those are two other examples.
One common trait these plants share is that they aren't deep-rooted or generally invasive. Remember, your redbud is the boss here, so if it detects another plant (or plants) taking its water or nutrients, there's a higher possibility of it attacking them.
In contrast, introducing too many new plants into the same area as a redbud could eventually harm it. If your tree is more recent/less mature, your new ground covering plants could take over its root system and kill it.
Again, this isn't the more common situation of the two but never say never.
Do Redbud Trees Have Invasive Roots?
No. Redbud trees won't usually have invasive or aggressive roots. Since this tree species tend to settle just below the ground's surface, redbuds are somewhat delicate.
Experts claim that you are generally safe to plant redbuds near sidewalks and other structures, as they won't break through. That can be a positive for landscaping but not always great when working with other plants.
As we mentioned, it's imperative to find ground-covering plants that won't try to overtake your redbud.
Think about your tree's roots being close to the soil's surface. Now imagine another set of roots merging alongside or on top/below them.
Not only can this kill your new plants, but if your redbud isn't healthy or is newer, it can also kill it.
So, the less aggressive and deep-rooted your new plant, the better it will survive and coexist beneath your tree. It's also worth noting that redbuds tend to get along with other plants and trees if they're nearby, so try to keep that peace going.
How Much Space Does A Redbud Tree Need?
For anyone planting a redbud or trying to figure out nearby landscaping, try to give your tree three feet of space on all sides. Of course, this is the bare minimum in terms of spacing, with many experts recommending closer to six or eight.
However, that rule doesn't always apply to plants below your redbud. As we mentioned above, as long as the species you grow below your tree isn't invasive or deep-rooted, there won't be an issue.
We recommend following the three-foot minimum rule if you want to plant other trees near your redbud.
Considering that a tree is more significant than a flowering shrub or crawling plant, you'll need to be more mindful of how far apart everything is in your garden.
Can You Plant Other Trees Near A Redbud?
Yes, it is possible to plant other trees near a redbud. Usually, you need to leave around 6-8 feet so both trees can reach mature size without much trouble, so keep that in mind.
As we mentioned above, planting trees too close together within your yard can lead to roots colliding and even the weaker of the two dying.
Since redbuds are somewhat fragile and shallow-rooted, it's not a good idea to test their limits. On the other hand, if you're planting other redbuds around a pre-existing one, there shouldn't be any problems.
The key here is providing your tree with ample space to develop its roots and absorb nearby nutrients from the soil. If too many trees are taking nutrients from a small plot of land, you could run into depreciated ground, meaning it lacks the benefits to grow your plants properly.
So, try to plant any new trees six or more feet from your redbud, and closer to ten if you have the space!
Can You Grow Vines Under A Redbud Tree?
For anyone wanting to grow a vine under a redbud tree, this depends. For the most part, you don't want to attach a vine to a tree, as over time, it can take over.
Although having a gorgeous flowering vine grow up at the base of your tree can sound picture-perfect, doing this could cause your redbud to become sick.
Remember, redbuds have shallow root systems. Adversely, many vines have sprawling, invasive roots, which can cause trouble for your healthy tree.
Furthermore, a vine isn't always non-toxic, which could hurt your redbud from the outside and beneath the soil. So, we don't recommend planting any vines on or near a redbud tree.
Will Grass Grow Under A Redbud?
Depending on the variety of grass you have, there is a chance it will thrive under your redbud tree. Typically, grass varieties that like the shade will do best underneath a redbud.
These include Fine fescue, tall fescue, red fescue, and Chewings fescue. In addition, the grass you plant or have needs to handle excess moisture well, which, luckily, many types of grass do.
It's pretty common to have grass surrounding a redbud, as these trees are decorative, so this idea isn't as far out there as you may think.
In general, trees that don't shed too much (like pines) can sustain grass below them. Redbud trees produce gorgeous flowers in the spring, but besides that, they don't shed too much extra foliage/debris.
Therefore, your grass below shouldn't run into patchiness or bald spots, which is essential.
How Big Do Redbud Trees Get?
You can typically expect a redbud tree to get between 20 and 25 feet tall. On top of that, most varieties will also be as wide as 25-30 feet, which means they need plenty of room to grow.
Considering these trees are beautiful to look at when they're flowering, this massive size can mean a garden full of bright red, purple, and pinkish blooms during springtime.
In addition, redbuds are moderate growers, reaching about ten feet in 5-6 years.
Many experts have recorded redbud trees growing at a rate of 1-2 feet annually, which can add up over time in the bigger picture.
Therefore, the bigger and more mature your redbud, the more shade it will provide for your yard. As we said, this can be a saving grace for some plant species, while others may not like it.
You also want to consider how much your mature redbud's roots will sprawl, as this can be as much as 10-15 feet in full-size trees.
To Tie Things Together
Whether you have one redbud in your backyard or ten, it's vital to understand how to grow things below them. We found plenty of options to try, including moss phlox, Virginia bluebells, Evergreen candytuft, Spotted dead-nettle, wild blue phlox, and even daffodils.
In addition, you want to make sure whatever you plant under a redbud won't invade its root system. Considering redbuds are more delicate, introducing new plants isn't always a good idea.
Regardless, try to find species that don't mind the shade, moister soil, and other roots nearby: good luck gardening!
Made it this far? Check out these helpful related plant posts below!
How Far Away From House Should An Oak Tree Be Planted?
Why Is My Japanese Maple Dying? [And How To Save It]