Friday, May 15, 2015

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud in Indiana

I'm giving the Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ weeping redbud a try here in Zone 6a Noblesville, Indiana. Online I see a mix of 5-6 hardiness, and I haven't seen a review anywhere about Ruby Falls here in Indiana, so let's go for it!

Ruby Falls is a mix from parents 'Covey' (weeping with green leaves) and 'Forest Pansy' (upright with maroon leaves), and I read that 'Covey' is thriving at the Chicago Botanical Gardens protected from wind, and even as far north as Wisconsin.

Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Weeping Redbud in Indiana
Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ weeping redbud - 4 yr old specimen from Sooner Plant Farms

Mine is on the north side of the house tucked into the L shape by the front door and protected from NW winds and afternoon sun by my garage. After my Japanese maple died, I did some work amending the soil and re-directing the downspout. My best guess is the maple died from drowning in a clay bathtub (what a way to go!).

ruby falls weeping redbud by mailruby falls weeping redbud by mail

It spent 3 days in the box going UPS ground from Oklahoma. I ordered from Sooner Plant Farms after I drove to 2 local nurseries here in Indiana. I actually used a vacation day from work because I called a nursery 40 minutes away and they said they had it in stock. After driving there in the rain, it wasn't there. So much for calling ahead! I ordered online that night (Monday) it shipped Tuesday and was on my doorstep on Friday. It arrived standing upright and I tipped it sideways to open it.

ruby falls
One broken branch but otherwise in great shape. The soil was still moist because they used water retention gel.
I was excited to get it in the ground, but first things first, I had to get the dead Japanese maple out of the way first. As I was cutting it down, I noticed just the faintest remnants of green tissue on the bottom branches. I'm not going to wait around 10 years for this tree to possibly rebound. When I dug up the roots, it validated my decision. The roots were rotten except for one tiny section that still had finer root structure intact.

taking out dead japanese mapletaking out dead japanese maple

Next, I wanted to extend the downspout out past the redbud so that rain water would run downhill away from the tree instead of pooling around the roots. I dug a trench following the curve of the gravel/mulch boundary. The plastic tubing didn't extend all the way into the yard, which is fine. I ended the tube with a 8 inch deep gravel pit. Then I connected the pit to a trench I dug along the front of the rock bed, like a moat around the rocks connecting all the way to the concrete walk, then I filled the moat with rocks.

downspout in rocksdownspout extension in rocks

I covered the plastic tube with more rocks and tested it out by spraying my roof with water. The water ran all the way down to the edge of the bed and following the moat around the front. They clay soil actually helps out with this because you can send the water where you want it. In this case, I'm just trying to spread it out as it spills into the grass and away from the redbud location.

pea gravel in hole
What a mess! I think creating order from chaos is one of the appealing things about landscaping

Next, I dug down further than necessary to get the root ball in the ground. I probably went down 2 full feet, then filled the bottom 6 inches with rocks and pea gravel. Then I added a small bag of topsoil, set the root ball on top of that, and added another bag around the top creating a mound that came up to the base of the trunk.

I added back some of the rocks I had moved, but left a good portion bare below the tree to let the roots get some air. I might add the rocks back once the tree gets established, or I might try moss or mulch. I want to see how the moisture works out now that the rain spout completely circumvents the redbud.

indiana ruby falls weeping redbud
Without the downspout catcher, I actually have more room. I might move the rocks around a bit, or try a Liriope or two among the rocks.

Just my luck! As soon as I got the tree in the ground a thunderstorm rolled in and I got to see the new downspout extension in action. No flooding, and good wind protection - I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

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