Hong Kong orchid tree?

kenrayDecember 3, 2009

Is this a Hong Kong orchid tree or something else? Whatever it is, can it be grown from a cutting?



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Hi Ken
I've been interested in propagating the Hong Kong orchid tree and was told it doesn't have seeds and would have to be air-layered. I tried to root cuttings at different times of the year and on different wood types, but none took.

I read this in a book on tropical plants "Bauhinia x blakeana is sterile and must be propagated by grafting."

It also says it is distinguished by 5 stamens and blooms from fall to spring, whereas the common orchid trees which bear seeds, purpurea, blooms in the fall and is distinguished by 3 stamens and open, up curved petal tips, varying from pale lavender and pink to magenta.

Sorry I can't help you ID the kind of Orchid Tree in the pic. Does it have seed pods? Since the book says the Purple Orchid Tree is shrubby and multi-trunked and heavily self-seeding and restricted in Florida, you probably are showing a pic of the Hong Kong.

Let us know if you are able to reproduce it, if it is.

Here's the one on the island that smells like heaven when I walk by:


    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 3:35PM
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fighting8r(10 Fort Myers Florida)

Looks just like the one I have and seed pods are all over, and seedlings constantly come up around the yard. I always thought it was Hong Kong orchid.
So I guess I have the "common" one. Never counted the stamens, and it is not in bloom right now. Sounds like the sterile one has a longer blooming period, which would be nice.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 4:04PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

I have a Hongkong Orchid tree, Bauhinia X blakeiana, which is just about to bloom now. I just took it out of a pot and put in the ground this past summer. It has bloomed before and made no seed pods so I am confident it is what I paid for. My plant is obviously from a cutting or an air layered limb. I have tried to root cuttings before without success, so after it blooms I'm going to try to air layer it.I have got cuttings to root in water and superthrive but they quickly died when I put them into a mix.

The more common species is B. variegata which comes in a purple and a white variety. The BB stores sell these as Hongkong Orchid trees. Of course they don't know the difference, it's whatever lable the vendor puts on it. I have also seen B purpurea labled as HK orchid tree. The B blakeiana has long been thought to be a hybrid of B variegata and B purpurea. I have read recently, that this has been confirmed by DNA testing. Good luck, john

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 11:43PM
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The only way to tell is to wait and see if it makes seed pods. If it does, then it is the common orchid tree and not the Hong Kong orchid tree. :o) I would not recommend getting or keep the commom one.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2009 at 6:00AM
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I am glad I found this posting. I am interested in planting a HK orchid tree - Bauhinia Blakeana -- in my front yard. I live in northern California where the winters can get down to 27 degrees and the summers can be dry and hot of 105 degrees or more. For those of you who have this tree, how does it grow? How do you like it? Does it get really messy? I read on one site that it does not drop leaves and on another site it says it does drop leaves.

Where did you buy your Bauhinia Blakeana?


    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 4:10AM
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kal2002 - Hong Kong Orchid is a tropical tree and I do not believe you will have much luck in Northern California. They can take a little bit of cold, but even here in Florida, you will not see them north of the Tampa Bay area.

If you still want to try, once they are established they don't need (or like) a lot of fussing, watering and fertilizing. Yes, they do drop leaves, in cold weather ALL of their leaves. They are hard to find and expensive because they are so difficult to propagate.

I really love these trees, they smell heavenly, and have gorgeous flowers.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 5:21PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

kal2002, I sent you an email. If your email address listed on GW is correct you should have received it by now. GW will not let me post a link to the place I bought mine, probably five years ago. The B. Blakeiana will take 27, maybe 25 for a few hours, it is said to be a little less tolerant of cold than the B variegata, which is common here in N central Fl, Z 9a. I disagree that it is a no care tree. In our poor sandy soil it requires fertilizing with a good product with adequate minor elements, otherwise the leaves become cloriotic, turn yellow and fall off. It blooms in winter for me. The place I bought mine has them in stock now for $36. Shipping for me was about $10, but I'm only about 280 miles away.

good luck john

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 7:14PM
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Yes, it is, I have 2 of them in my yard, they can get up to 40' high and very wide spread.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 7:34PM
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Last year I planted 2 of these trees in our garden and they both look unhappy. Their leaves are dried up and brown around the edges. Does anyone know what the problem is? I would be grateful for any advice.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 6:36AM
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bigpaulie1972(9B Melbourne FL)

They will grow in pretty much any soil in FL. But it really requires some good soil and fertilization for it to look good year round. It does drop ALL of it's leaves for a month or 2 but aside from that it's a beautiful tree.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 10:22AM
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Thank you for all of your comments. Hi johnjsr, I got you email, thanks. If I decide to get one later on, I will mail order from the same source as yours. I have since found out from a local nursery that it will not bloom in the winter here. That is one of my goals - have a winter flowering tree. As gypsyrose mentioned and I was told that it does not do well with our cold winters. If I ever decide to get one and if possible, I would like to grow it in a big pot like a bush so I can protect it in the winter.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 4:18PM
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mine yawned at 28 degrees this winter. its blooming right now with some leaf drop.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 2:24PM
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ladybugfalcon(9b FL)

If it's Bauhinia variegata (orchid tree) it is considered invasive in Florida. This is the one with the seed pods.

Interesting fact: It's not an orchid; it's related to Peas/beans. It's beautiful, but should not be planted in the southeast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Invasive Orchid Tree link

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 8:58PM
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Watch where you order yr HK Orchid tree from. I just got a delivery of one that I ordered from T Tropicals. They charged $25 shipping for a 5 ft tree which cost $30. When I opened it all the leaves were yellow and on removal of the netting they all fell off. They say it's heat damaged and they won't do anything.... Not good. It was only in transit 3 days. So beware who you buy online from - I certainly won't use them again.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2010 at 2:59PM
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Just a little update.. I got my money returned but not nicely. They blamed me for ordering a tree in summer... who would have thought they would pack it in a cardboard box FULL of packing chips that sweat....!
All I wanted was another HK Orchid tree to replace the one I lost in the cold weather - on the look out again..!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 1:41PM
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    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 5:29PM
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msmorningsong(SW FL 10A)

julsintx, I too have been duped by T. Tropicals. And it was bauhinia. Gardeners, beware, they are nasty (at top level, not the actual workers who care for the plants). They do not like admitting they made the mistake. The sad thing about this company is that they could have built an excellent online business. Instead, they just count on the newcomers and ignorance. Since all bauhinia share the same leaf, unless they are blooming, you can't really tell what species you have. They got me. I like the specie I ended up with, but not what they tagged it as.
DO NOT PURCHASE plants from this company! jmo.
* I know old post, but if you still don't have this tree, I do in fact grow several species. If you want, I have seeds, and fresh, of b. acuminata and variegata

This post was edited by MsMorningSong on Tue, Apr 23, 13 at 13:46

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:33PM
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From my experience they are prone to leaf scorch during times of stress, I have found they don't like transition. I fertilize with fertilizer for acid loving plants. Also deciduous in my 9B zone and responds to pruning. I grow B. acuminata, HK x blakeiana, and a Bauhinia vine. Also had trouble with TT, originally bought my trees from them, both arrived in terrible shape and died.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 8:58PM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

I have a white veriegata and it's been in full bloom for months. The humming birds adore it. If anyone wants seeds, let me know. The pods are drying now, I seem to have a few extra. LOL.

I also have 2 HKorchids and a purple veriegata that is too small to bloom yet. While I agree that they can be messy, it's all in where you plant. Make sure you keep them where you can mow around them so any seedlings get run over and that makes it easiest.

As for care. Either variety is going to be fairly easy to care for once established. Some pruning to keep the shape and a few applications of fertilizer annually and you should be good to go. THe only thing I've had to watch out for is sooty -which was easily handled when the plants were young. Once they were larger they were never bothered again.


    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 1:25PM
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If you're in the Tampa area, there is a nursery in Brandon that carries Hong Kong Orchid trees, the x blakeana type. It's called Kerby's nursery located on S Parsons off 60. Freaking love that place. Pretty sure I spend at least 3 hours a week there just ogling all the awesome plants they have. And the roses! Heaven.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:44AM
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Be ready to fertilize heavily, spray, and deal with a million little leaf notcher weevils. When they're well taken care of they're a beautiful tree, but usually they end up looking like crap with chorotic leaves, bare branches, few flowers, and ragged leaf margins.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 3:14PM
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