Silver Cloud redbud

cercis-canadensis-silver-cloud-overall-640

 

Oh, oh:  Foliage can be too colorful by half.  The gold-leaved forsythia in the background was supposed to be a great partner for the pale leaves in the foreground, until I saw that the redbud foliage doesn't emerge cream at all.  It's pink.  And not strong pink, so we could at least be appalled at the sheer drama of the conflict.  Palest cupcake-frosting pink.  Creamed butter and sugar with just one strawberry whipped into it.  Baby-blanket pink, appropriate, true, for leaves that are just hours and days old. 

 

But the clash with the chrome yellow is both of color (yellow with pink) and saturation (intense with weak).  A double whammy.  Argh.  The forsythia also requires afternoon shade so its foliage doesn't scorch.  But clearly, not everything that wants afternoon shade goes with everything else that wants afternoon shade.

 

Putting my pale pink, dirt-smudged, Scottish-skin fingers into the picture sure doesn't help, either.  Although they do let me bring into the picture a few of the leaves that are just a bit older than baby-pink.  Those are the parchment white I thought they'd be right from the start.  And green chlorophyll is just starting to infuse into them from the center vein outward.

 

cercis-canadensis-silver-cloud-finger-640

 

Parchment leaves suffused with green, with the glowing forsythia foliage as the jazzy background.  That's the combination I was hoping for.  Later in June the redbud's leaves will all be past their pink infancy, and this spot will be coordinating well.   We'll be back.

 

 

Here's how to enjoy this unusual variegated redbud in your own garden:

 

Latin Name

Cercis canadensis 'Silver Cloud'

Common Name

'Silver Cloud' Redbud

Family

Fabaceae, the "Fab" family?  Fabulous indeed, but this is the current name for the Leguminocae family—the legume family: peas, beans, and innumerable garden ornamentals, annuals, perennials, shrubs, vines, and trees among them.

What kind of plant is it?

Small deciduous tree.

Hardiness

Zones 5 - 9

Habit

Upright and single-trunked, with a modest canopy.

Rate of Growth

Slow.

Size in ten years

Perhaps twelve feet tall and six feet wide.  This is a slow-moving plant.

Texture

Delicate, even fragile, with near-white young foliage looking more like flower petals than leaves. 

Grown for

the extraordinary foliage.  It emerges a pale creamy pink, quickly changing to pure cream, with green chlorophyll gradually appearing along the veins at the center of the leaves and increasing over the summer until the leaves are green with white mottles and splashes.  The vampire-pale foliage emerges long after Spring is in full swing: late May for me.  If it's not going to clash horribly with nearby garden color that's had an earlier start in the season and has now worked up to its peak intensity, 'Silver Cloud' should be surrounded by neutral green, or similarly pale-powered shades of blue, rose, white, and grey.  Partnering with chrome-leaved forsythia turned out to be the example of "Do as I say, not as I do."

 

the paler-than-normal redbud flowers that precede the leaves: pink in small clusters directly from the branches and even from major limbs, not from the tips of new growth, as is more typical.  A modest bloomer in my experience, though—meaning, actually, not a single flower yet, and my individual is about six feet tall.

Flowering season

Mid-Spring.  Despite the "redbud" of the common name, the buds are distinctly pink.

 

Culture

Any decent soil with good drainage year-round. 

How to handle it

The foliage can scorch in strong sun, even with good soil and enough water, so site it so it gets dappled shade all day, or morning sun then afternoon shade.  The tree will grow faster with more sun and light, though, so the puzzle is to find a balance between quicker growth that avoids sun damage.  A further wrinkle:  The variegation is stronger in the shade—as is the ephemeral pink of nascent foliage.

 

I grow my 'Silver Cloud' at the northeast side of my house, where it gets afternoon shade.  Foliage that projects too far out from the house, getting that strong afternoon sun, is fried.    

 

Wherever you site this redbud, be sure the tree doesn't hurt for water in the warm months.  Water deeply once a week during droughts.

 

Downsides

Slow growing and a challenge to site.  As with redbuds in general, can sometimes decline and fail outright if too dry.  That said, I've dealt with individuals of the straight species that thrived in seeming dust and concrete rubble, and others that failed despite getting enough water.

Variants

 Redbuds aren't just "red" any more.  There are cultivars with white flowers, deeper-pink flowers, and double-pink flowers.  There are also cultivars with glowing yellow, or deep-purple foliage, both of which are quite sun-tolerant.  Dwarf redbuds are out there, too. 

Availability

On-line, as well as at retailers.

Propagation

Cuttings and grafting.  The hybrid cultivars don't come true from seed.

Native habitat

Middle North America, from Southern Ontario to North Florida.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

 
 
FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Subscribe to Email

join our mailing list
* indicates required