Though most of us love Redbuds, nobody likes the thousand-and-one seedlings they produce after scattering their seed all over the garden. Left unchecked in a woodland setting, this shrub can even be invasive. That's where 'Don Egolf' can make such a difference. It is non-fruiting, so it sets no seed, and you don't have to root out a single one of those little heart-shaped leaves on amazingly strong stems from your garden!
And 'Don Egolf' would be a glorious addition to the garden even if it weren't seedless. The blooms are super-abundant, and the color is magnificent: sort of a light maroon, or a combination of rose, red, and lavender. Neon-bright, it will be the only one of its shade in the entire garden!
This multi-stemmed little shrub grows very slowly, eventually reaching 8 to 10 feet high and wide. The dark green heart-shaped leaves are deciduous, falling to reveal an attractive bare skeleton in winter. And 'Don Egolf' is wonderfully resistant to canker, unlike most other Redbuds!
This cultivar was released by Margaret Pooler in 2000, but began as one of a batch of seed sent from the botanical garden in Yunnan, People's Republic of China, to the U.S. Arboretum in 1984. The seed was originally identified as Cercis chingii, but after it began growing, it was corrected to C. chinensis. Dr. Don Egolf was originally in charge of this project, in which the seedling that would eventually be named for him was spotted quite early as being distinctive from the rest: it was unusually floriferous, and it set no seed. Eventually it was trialed in 14 states in addition to the U.S. National Arboretum test fields, and found to be non-fruiting as well as very free-flowering and particularly well-adapted to dry soils. Then the canker resistance was discovered -- icing on the cake!
Whether you use 'Don Egolf' as a specimen planting, as part of a border, or in a woodland setting, do give this stellar little shrub a special place in your landscape. It will repay you richly for decades to come, both in beauty and in labor-saving! Zones 6-9.
Set out in full sun or light shade. Widely tolerant of soils from sandy to heavy clayloams, Cercis do best in a moisture-retentive, well-drained soil enhanced with healthy amounts of decomposed organic matter.
Mulch to conserve moisture after planting and again each spring for at least the first two years. Provide supplemental water during periods of drought. Both species naturally have a shrub-like growth habit, with many low and upright branches. Prune only to shape or to remove dead branches.
Tips for gardening in particularly hot, dry climates: