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Plant Preview


Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Merlot Redbud is Drought- and Heat-Tolerant with Wine-Colored Leaves



Raise a toast to this drought- and heat- tolerant redbud with Merlot-colored leaves. Merlot Redbud (PPAF) is the preferred vintage for those gardeners in hotter, drier zones (U.S.D.A Zones 6 – 9) looking for a small ornamental tree with dark foliage. A cross between Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy' and Cercis canadensis var. texensis, Merlot Redbud is much more drought- and heat- tolerant than eastern redbud trees and has appealing shiny wine-red foliage that laugh at heat.

The glossy leaves of Merlot Redbud are dark wine-purple like the color of a fine Merlot wine and are smaller and more rounded, free of scorch well into fall. The reduced size and rounded shape (without a point) accommodates the stress of hot climates, while the shiny leaf surface slows transpiration or water loss of this hybrid redbud.  These strategies to ‘beat the heat’ are inherited from their texensis parentage, and thick, glossy Merlot Redbud leaves hold up well during the heat of Southern and Southwestern summers without browning margins.


At 12’ x 15’ Merlot is the perfect tree for small yards. Overall the small ornamental tree has as a semi-upright vase-shaped growth habit. The plant is tighter and denser than Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’.

Mature trees flower heavily with strong, bright magenta-pink flowers on bare branches. They are self-cleaning and have a low seed set. Thus the homeowner or landscaper enjoys a heavy bloom but the seed pods tend to drop early before ripening and turning brown, and don’t hang on the tree. These flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and nectar-loving birds.

The name ‘Merlot’ means ‘young blackbird’ in French, after the dark maroon-black color of both the varietal grape from Burgundy and the leaf of this redbud, a ‘grand cru’ among Cercis cultivars.



Statistics Chart for Merlot Redbud (PPAF), Cercis canadensis var. texensis x Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
Plant Category:
 Deciduous flowering tree
Mature Height:
 12 feet
Mature Spread:
 15 feet
Mature Form:
 Semi-upright vase, shaped habit. The perfect tree for small yards. 
Growth Rate:
Vigorous
Sun Exposure:
 Best grown in full sun
Heat Tolerance:
 Great tree for those gardeners in hotter zones looking for a darker foliage small flowering tree.
Soil Moisture:
 Well-drained soil, drought resistant tree due to texensis parentage
Soil Type:
 Loamy, Sandy, or Clay; wide range
Flower Color:
 Strong, bright pink flowers
Bloom Time:
 Flowers on bare branches in Early Spring
Seed Pods:
 Merlot is self-cleaning and has a low seed set. The homeowner or landscaper enjoys a heavy bloom but the seed pods tend to drop early before ripening and turning brown, and don’t hang on the tree.
Summer Color:
 Deciduous, small rounded glossy dark purple leaves, the color of  Merlot wine.
Fall Color:
 Red-Burgundy color holds in fall
pH Level:
 5.5 – 7.5
Zones:
 69  (-10 degrees F or 23 Degrees C), well suited for hot climates
Heredity:
U.S., Breeder Dr. Dennis Werner, through PlantHaven, Inc., CA on behalf of North Carolina State University
                                                           
When performance counts, use Garden Debut® introductions

Photo credit: Flowers by PittState.edu

1 comment:

  1. The glossy leaves of Merlot Redbud are dark wine-purple like the color of a fine Merlot wine and trees for sale

    ReplyDelete