Saturday, April 5, 2014

texas vs. oklahoma 1 year later

I previously blogged about my (limited) experience between Texas vs. Oklahoma redbuds. So now that the plants have been in the ground for a year, some additional observations.

Oklahoma, left; Texas, right

Just to recap. I needed to put something in the holes left vacant after the removal of the half-dead river birch and the removal of the invasive and house-knocking aspen in my small courtyard, and thought about redbuds. I figured they had a nice size, nice leaves, would grow well in both sun (one side of the courtyard) and shade (the other), had color in both spring and fall, would grow to a size that would be neither too large or too small for the courtyard, and would be relatively native (varieties from Texas and Oklahoma) and appropriate for this altitude (as opposed to aspen). They would also not be particularly flammable, since the branches would eventually be over the firepit (thus no pinyon or juniper). They would be broader at the top than at the bottom (as opposed to juniper or pinyon, or mountain mahogany), which I felt to be important for the space since there is limited walking room and I wanted an overhead canopy. I had considered fragrant ash (but shrubby), Rocky Mountain maples (potentially too big, but still a good option), Japanese maples (not native but would be beautiful, smaller than a native maple, and appropriate for this microclimate). I decided on the redbuds for these reasons, even though I would have preferred something fragrant (juniper, pinyon, mountain mahogany, fragrant ash) since the courtyard would hold fragrance. Ah well, compromises had to be made.

Looking on-line and in the Sunset Garden Book, the most locally native redbud was Cercis reniformis aka C. canadensis var. reniformis, the kidney leafed redbud. It was fall (perfect for planting), and at the nursery, there was one Oklahoma redbud left, and one Texas redbud, both labelled C. reniformis. My research showed no difference between the two, and the nursery personnel didn't think there was a difference (never a good resource here, I've discovered). The leaves were a bit different between the plants, but I thought that difference might be cultural. I figured the differences would be minimal, and might add variety to the courtyard, so I bought both.

Oklahoma - more compact, spreading

Texas - looser, more upright

The differences turned out to be much more marked than I had expected. Planted at about the same size, Texas grew 6-8 feet last year, Oklahoma grew 6-8 inches. Texas had thinner leaves, more easily damaged by wind, turned a glowing yellow in the fall. Oklahoma had glossy thick leaves, which turned from green to bronze to brown in the fall, never having much fall color. Branches of Texas grew upright, Oklahoma grew outward, with the lower branches drooping. Texas grew multi-trunked, Oklahoma did not grow from the base.

Oklahoma - more purple, more dense

Texas - more rosy, less dense

Oklahoma flowers are slightly darker, and from my nursery excursions, it seems that I have a particularly dark Texas, which is only slightly lighter than Oklahoma, as other Texas plants at the nursery have lighter flowers, closer to Eastern redbuds. I am also noticing that on these one year plants, Oklahoma blooms all along the trunk even to the ground, whereas Texas doesn't seem to bloom as much on the 2 year-old wood.

Oklahoma - smooth stems

Texas - knobby stems

On Texas, where the leaves joined the stem, there is a noticeable swelling or nob, whereas on Oklahoma, the stems are smooth.

"new Texas"

I'm going to take Oklahoma out and replace it with a Texas redbud since Texas grows more upright and the multitrunked form is more "woodsy." That will make the hubby happier. Unfortunately the new Texas that I bought has paler pink flowers than the old one, but I think that will be okay.

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