Ruby Falls Redbud [leader missing]


I purchased a Ruby Falls redbud from a nursery and I took notice that they cut off the leader the top of the tree will I get new growth on the top or does that mean that the Ruby Falls will not grow any taller than it is? I just want to make sure that it will still continue to grow and the tree is going to be okay. The tree is about 4 1/2 feet tall. I live in zone 6b. The ruby falls gets about 7 hours sun and then gets shade from about 1:30pm on. The long stick in the picture is the stake.
Thank you for your time


Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about the potentially missing leader on your weeping Ruby Falls Redbud tree (Cercis Canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’).

It is quite possible that the tree will not get any taller if the leader has been cut off or is otherwise missing.

It seems that you may have at least 2 options:

  1. Return the tree to the nursery from which you purchased it, and ask for a replacement tree or your money back.
  2. At least one resource  suggests that you can pick a fairly pliable branch near the top of the tree, bend it upwards, and attach it to the stake to form a new leader. This article has a good diagram with instruction..

Please note that we neither recommend nor discourage the latter approach.  Redbud trees, while a very beautiful native tree option, can be short-lived due to damage, viruses and pests.  Toronto is at the upper hardiness of their range, so trees in Toronto and other Zone 6b regions may be more susceptible than others.  (I lost a 13-year-old redbud tree this year to verticillium wilt – were it not for the fact that verticillium wilt survives in the soil and affects other susceptible trees, I would definitely get another redbud!).  It is up to you whether you decide to take this second approach and any of the accompanying risks (e.g. the potential leader replacement branch might break or become damaged as you try to bend it, and/or you introduce a pest or disease if there is damage; the branch may not grow upwards or at all; etc.)

Eastern Redbuds prefer full sun but they are also understory trees, meant to survive in slightly dappled shade under a high canopy of taller trees.  The conditions you describe sound very suitable for an Eastern Redbud, as it will not get too much hot afternoon sun.

Please see below a relatively recent question and answer posted on our website about Ruby Falls Redbud, as well as other references you may find useful.