How to Keep a Redbud Tree Small?

how to keep a redbud tree small

Redbud tree flowers add beauty to the yard during their full blossom. So, many gardeners want to plant it indoors or outdoors. But its increasing shape prevents them from planting it in smaller spaces. However, you can control their shape through some techniques. But for this, you must know how to keep a redbud tree small. 

Pruning and trimming off the side and inward branches are the main keys to keeping a redbud smaller in height. Also, planting their specific variety helps. Here, I will include how to prune and which varieties to pick for that. 

How to Keep a Redbud Tree Small During Summer?

The most effective method to grow a redbud into a small shape is to prune it frequently. But it requires different cutting techniques and preparation during summer. So, here are the steps to that –

Step 1: Remove the Crisscrossings 

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

Look for branches pointing toward the tree’s trunk or bark. With pruning shears or saws, cut off those inward branches. It allows the canopy to grow in a trimmed shape and prevent clutters or crisscrossings from growing out of shape. Here are the basic tips to follow during pruning:

Step 2: Cut Lower Branches

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

If there are branches too close to the tree bed or ground, cut them off once a year. Do not remove them too frequently. Otherwise, you can block nutrients from reaching every part of the redbud tree. And it may stop the overall growth before it matures. 

Step 3: Spread Fertilizer 

After pruning, applying fertilizer is necessary to prevent the redbud from absorbing stress. So, spread organic fertilizers meant for shrubs and trees around the drip line. Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines or instructions on the packet to know how much you need to apply. 

Step 4: Add Mulch

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

With dried leaves, compost, and straws, add mulch around the trunk. You can spread the mulch around the drip line of the canopy. It is better to apply thick or 6 inches-deep mulch. 

Step 5: Trim off Sprouts

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

Redbud suckers or water sprouts grow from the lower base of the tree, and they compete for nutrients. Also, they grow in every direction. As a result, the tree cannot grow in a controlled shape. So, trim off these suckers and stems.

Step 6: Maintain Summer Pruning 

To maintain the controlled small shape, every 3 to 5 years, prune the branches in summer. Or else sprouts and inward-going branches can damage the shape. However, if pathogens infect the redbud tree, you will have to trim off the branches immediately!

Can You Trim a Redbud Tree in the Fall, Spring, and Winter to Keep it Small?

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

Honestly speaking, keeping the redbud smaller in spring, fall, and winter is a bit trickier. Because this tree is most vulnerable to diseases during these periods. So, apply these methods below to keep the tree in controlled shape without damaging it –

Step 1: Cut off Redbud Tree dead Branches 

First, trim off the diseased or dead branches during winter. Because in this period, the tree is dormant. So, extensive pruning cannot block its natural growth. To identify diseased branches, look for brown or yellow spots, and wilt leaves on them. 

However, if you do not want to affect its full blossoms, avoid trimming in winter. Instead, remove the branches in spring. 

Note that if you do not want to get into the sticky branches, choose to prune in winter. Because during spring, the sap forms that causes stickiness after trimming. 

Step 2: Avoid Recently Wilted Stems 

If you prune the recently wilted branches to keep the tree small, you will affect its nutrient transfer process. So, if the leaves wilted a few days ago, avoid pruning them. 

How Do You Trim and Shape a Redbud Tree without Pruning?

Pruning a Redbud tree is not feasible if it is a recently transplanted young tree. In that case, follow the alternatives described below to keep it smaller –

1. Grow Indoor Redbuds

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

Eastern Redbuds are the ideal choice to grow indoors, especially in winter. They do not require much space as they mature when they reach 12 feet in height. 

Plant the tree in a container that is twice the size of the redbud’s width. If the container is too small in volume, it will not promote the tree to grow naturally. You should plant the tree in a fast-draining soil mixture. 

The pot should be placed in an area that receives partial or indirect light from the sun. Direct sunlight will damage its foliage. 

As it grows, make sure to trim off the sides of the canopy and branches. It aids in maintaining a small shape. While pruning, trim off the area above the root ball. Or else the root ball system will expand and the tree will be much taller than expected. 

2. Stake the Tree

How to Keep A Redbud Tree Small

Staking a redbud tree or tying its branches promotes the tree to keep a standard height. So, to follow the process, here is what to do:

  • Drive wood or metal stakes one foot into the soil, and make sure you do not plant it too close to the redbud trunk. 
  • The stakes should be at the preferred height you want your tree to be.

  • Take a young lower branch growing closely from the lower base of the tree and tie it to the stake with a strap. It allows the branch to hold its shape. 
  • Keep tying up the branches until the tree appears smaller in height. 
  • Remove the stakes once the stems can support themselves without the support of the stakes. 


Just because many novice gardeners do not know how to keep a redbud tree small, they are prone to drop the idea of planting it. So, if you are one of them, try transplanting the dwarf varieties indoors or in the yard, especially if you have congested space.

But make sure the place gets enough shade and sunlight. Or else the trees will die prematurely. Arborists do not recommend leaving the dead branches that grow after the pruning seasons. Immediately trim 3 to 6 inches below the affected area, even if it is not a pruning period. 

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q’s):

Is it safe to prune the redbud frequently to keep it small?

It depends on the season you are pruning. The tree cannot take heavy pruning stress during summer. So, try to trim off excessively in its inactive season or winter. 

Which Redbud trees grow smaller in size?

The Dwarf eastern Redbud and weeping species grow shorter in height than its other species. They reach 6 to 15 feet in height. 

Should you fertilize the redbud tree after each pruning?

No, applying fertilizers is not necessary after each prune in spring or winter. However, during summer, spreading fertilizers is necessary.

Md Biajid

Meet Mia Biajid, a passionate nature lover. Particularly, he has a deep-rooted connection to the plant. Mia loves to spend time exploring forests and uncovering the secrets held within trees. He always inspires others to appreciate and protect our precious part of the ecosystem.

Recent Posts