Plant Encyclopedia

Midnight Express® Redbud

Cercis canadensis

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Midnight Express® Redbud

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The Midnight Express® Redbud, scientifically known as Cercis canadensis, is a striking addition to any garden or landscape. This majestic tree, native to North America, is renowned for its vibrant pink pea-shaped blooms that herald the arrival of spring. What sets the Midnight Express® apart is its extraordinary foliage – a rich burgundy with enchanting green undertones that maintains its allure throughout the growing season. This remarkable coloring adds a dramatic flair to any setting, whether it's a meticulously planned landscape or a natural, native garden.

Growing to a substantial height of 20 to 30 feet with a spread of 10 to 20 feet, the Midnight Express® Redbud is a tall and imposing presence. Yet, its size remains manageable, making it a perfect choice for a variety of landscapes. Its upright growth habit and burgundy foliage, which provide interest even into the fall, make it an excellent choice as a focal point in larger gardens or as an impressive specimen tree.

Hardy in zones 5 through 8, this redbud variety is versatile and adaptable to a range of climates. The plant thrives best in full sun, requiring at least six hours of sunlight a day, but it can also tolerate partial sun. Remarkably easy to maintain, it isn’t demanding in terms of soil type and requires minimal pruning, mostly in its dormant winter state or, if necessary, after its blooming period in spring.

Plant Attributes

The Midnight Express® Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a deciduous tree that boasts a range of impressive attributes, making it a standout choice for gardens and landscapes. It is characterized by its tall stature, typically reaching a height of 20 to 30 feet and a spread of 10 to 20 feet, presenting an upright and commanding presence. The tree's foliage is particularly notable, with its unique purple color and burgundy hues accented by green undertones. This distinctive coloring remains vibrant throughout the growing season, ensuring that the tree remains a focal point in any setting.

The Midnight Express® Redbud is celebrated for its stunning pink flowers, which bloom in spring on old wood, adding a splash of color early in the year. Its native status to North America makes it an ideal choice for those looking to incorporate native plant species into their landscaping. In terms of light requirements, this tree thrives best in full sun, needing at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, but it can also adapt to part sun conditions.

Landscape Use

The Midnight Express® Redbud offers versatile landscaping uses due to its striking appearance and adaptable nature. Here are some of its primary landscaping applications:

  1. Specimen Tree: Its impressive height, unique burgundy foliage, and vibrant pink flowers make the Midnight Express® Redbud an ideal specimen tree. It can serve as a focal point in a garden, drawing attention and adding a dramatic touch.
  2. Mixed Borders: The tree can be incorporated into mixed borders along with other shrubs and perennials. Its distinctive foliage color provides a beautiful contrast against green-leaved plants, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the border.
  3. Native Plantings: As a native North American tree, it fits seamlessly into native and wildlife gardens, contributing to biodiversity and providing natural beauty.
  4. Formal Landscapes: The structured growth habit and striking appearance of the Midnight Express® Redbud allow it to be a part of more formal garden designs, where it can add a touch of elegance and color.
  5. Mass Planting: For larger landscapes, mass planting of this redbud variety can create a breathtaking and cohesive look, especially when its spring flowers are in bloom.
  6. Urban Gardens: Due to its moderate size and adaptability, it is suitable for urban gardens where space might be limited but a striking visual element is desired.
  7. Wildlife Garden: The tree can attract pollinators during its blooming season, making it a valuable addition to gardens designed to support local wildlife.
  8. Erosion Control: In landscape areas prone to erosion, the root system of the Midnight Express® Redbud can help stabilize the soil.
  9. Seasonal Interest: With its spring blooms and colorful foliage throughout the growing season, this tree offers multi-seasonal interest, making it a valuable addition for year-round visual appeal.

In summary, the Midnight Express® Redbud's adaptability, striking appearance, and native status make it a versatile choice for various landscaping purposes, from formal designs to natural, wildlife-supporting gardens.

Planting & Care

The Midnight Express® Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a resilient and visually striking tree that requires some specific care and planting considerations to thrive. Here are key guidelines for planting and caring for this tree:


  1. Timing: Plant in early spring or fall, when the tree is dormant. This helps reduce transplant shock and allows the roots to establish before extreme weather conditions.
  2. Location: Choose a site with full sun to part sun exposure, ensuring the tree gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  3. Soil: While adaptable to various soil types, the tree prefers well-drained soil. Amend heavy clay soils or very sandy soils with organic matter to improve soil structure.
  4. Planting Depth: Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Place the tree so that the top of the root ball is level with the ground surface.
  5. Watering After Planting: Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets.


  1. Watering: Water deeply and regularly during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system. Once established, the tree is quite drought tolerant but benefits from occasional watering during prolonged dry spells.
  2. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base to retain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature. Keep mulch a few inches away from the trunk to prevent rot.
  3. Fertilizing: Fertilization is generally not necessary unless the soil is very poor. If needed, use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring.
  4. Pruning: Minimal pruning is required. Prune to shape the tree if necessary, ideally during winter dormancy. Avoid heavy pruning; focus on removing dead or damaged branches.
  5. Pest and Disease Management: The Midnight Express® Redbud is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for common issues like canker or leaf spot and treat as needed.
  6. Winter Care: In colder regions, young trees may benefit from some winter protection, like wrapping the trunk in a tree guard to prevent frost cracks.

By following these planting and care instructions, the Midnight Express® Redbud can grow into a healthy and stunning addition to your landscape, offering seasonal beauty and a burst of color.

Additional Information

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Midnight Express® Redbud


Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Tree
  • Watering Needs: Average; adaptable to various conditions.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: SER-sis kan-a-DEN-sis
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Average landscape size: Grows to a height of 20-30 feet and spreads 10-20 feet.
  • Special features: Native to North America, Foliage Interest, Fall Interest, Specimen or Focal Point, Mass Planting
  • Dramatic Foliage: Rich burgundy color with handsome green undertones
  • Foliage color: Purple (Burgundy with green undertones)
  • Blooms: Spring
  • Flower color: Pink
  • Flower attributes: Pea-shaped, Showy Flowers
  • Garden style: Naturalistic, Modern, Formal
  • Design Ideas: Ideal as a standalone specimen tree or as part of a larger shrub border. Its dramatic foliage makes it suitable for modern garden designs, while its native status allows for integration into naturalistic and wildlife gardens. Can be used in formal settings due to its structured growth and striking appearance.
  • Companion Plants: Compatible with a variety of shrubs and perennials that enjoy similar sun and soil conditions. Works well with plants that have contrasting foliage or flower colors to highlight its unique burgundy leaves.

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