Anyone growing an Orchid Tree?

tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)December 12, 2007

I have been passing an Orchid tree in the neighborhood and it really looks quite nice. The blooms are very fragrant and have a nice shade of deep pink.

Today I noticed it has HUGE seed pods hanging all over it and stopped to ask the owner (who was outside) about the tree regarding maintenance, habits and pests. She said the beauty and scents more than make up for the seed pods.

I was able to get a seed pod but after looking it up on the net, I see that some varieties are considered invasive and there are also some which are hybrid and are podless.

Anyone growing any variety of the Orchid tree? Or know of one in your area?

I am trying to decide if I should even bother trying to sprout these seeds.



Here is a link that might be useful: Click here to see some info on the Orchid Tree

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a lady up the street has a few... they are really beautiful, and very seedy. but she just keeps them in a a grassy area that gets mowed regularly, and says that any of the seedlings that managed to survive make great passalongs... i'd grow one, if i weren't nearing tree capacity...

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 7:54PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Thanks Michael, I agree, I think they look great and are the right max height too. I need to find out how fast/slow they grow. I wouldnt mind having a decent sized one in this lifetime, but if slow from seed, I may need to scout out a hybrid maybe.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 8:09PM
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I have the Hong Kong orchid tree-Bauhinia blakeana. Seedless and pretty flowers. That is the one I would suggest.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 8:58PM
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oh, gosh, i think they grow VERY quickly. i agree -- it's a nice sized tree. not too big, not too little.

they get bitten by frost, but the woman i talked with made it sound like not much of an issue. she gave me a seedling, but i let it die (after i gave her about fifty dune sunflowers)... bad me.

i've also heard many people praise the blakeana.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 9:21PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)


Does yours have thorns?

I didnt notice any on the one that has the seed pods.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 9:29PM
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Hi Tony,
I have never seen thorns on my tree.
I also have
B bidentata-a vine
B acuminata-a dwarf white
B tomentosa-another dwarf
but my favorite is the blakeana.

Someone I know chopped his b purpurea tree down to the ground and it came back as a 7' bush. It was rather impressive and is currently blooming. Nice if you don't want a large tree.
Bill also has B monandra which I found prettier than the regular pink.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 11:24PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Had one of these in the backyard when we first got our house.. Would frequently defoliate with the slightest cold.
Was pretty about 3 weeks of the year. Ants loved it lol.
The best feature was the seed pods . They explode and cast the seeds. Frequently hit the shed sounding like firecrackers. Would produce hundreds of seedlings.
Scout around there are many many choices in the family
with none of the bad habits. My favorite is the dwarf white . Blakeana. .The Hong Kong is good also flowers while still foliated and there is a sterile variety no seed pods!!! gary

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 5:40AM
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I had both the white and the pink ones that the hurricanes took down. But they seeded like crazy and got to be a pain, I was glad to loose them. Now I have the blakeanna and it flowers well, and no seeds to deal with. Both the white and the pink were very fast growers and were at least 20 feet in 5 years. I got a seedling of the red one from Anita, and that one is supposed to only get around 6ft, but again it seeds, but I don't know how readily.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 6:27AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

I agree with Trini. A hong kong orchid tree (bauhinia blakeana) is the way to go. I had one of these at a different property. It gave several months of beauty and no seed pods. The flowers are larger and better formed, has beautiful color. Every year it started blooming around Halloween and bloomed several months. To keep it looking good, it needs a hard pruning every other year, or it gets deadwood in it that's unattractive. It is a little harder to find, and a bit more expensive, since it is sterile and can only be propagated by air layering, or other division, I think. But worth it, as a long-term investment for a tree. These trees shed their large leaves a lot, so put it in a spot where this is not an issue.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 6:58AM
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vireyafl(710 FL)

I have Bauhinia blakeana the Hong Kong Orchid Tree as well. It has just started to bloom and will continue to do so during the winter. The flower is a beautiful dark magenta color, fragrant and attractive to hummingbirds. It is the sterile hybrid so no seed pods and seedings to deal with, but don't plant in a wet area as it does not like wet feet. I would say that it is a moderately fast grower but starts blooming when quite small. The only negative is when the leaves fall.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 11:58AM
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Here's mine in full bloom right now have 2 of these love them.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 2:24PM
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close up of orchids on tree, no edit on here or I'd add it to post above???

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 2:28PM
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Tony, my school has one, its between the media center and the last permanent wing, before all the portables. It gets butchered by the lawn crew periodically and just bounces back. I cant remember if it has seed pods, I honestly dont think so, cause there are no seedlings under the tree. We are moving out of the school next Friday and moving in to the new school. I say, over Christmas break, take the dog for a walk and bring your clippers. Patti V. is subbing right next door to me all next week, maybe you could bribe her to bring you some clippings!!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 4:09PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Hi Pat ! I think the dog needs to go NOW !!

Thanks for the tip and precise location.

Letcha know.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 4:22PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Patsums...... I got one tiny branch, what a great looking tree. I hope it roots. I couldnt get a full branch with laterals that look like a tree shape now, but did get one with that had blossoms on it.

Anyone know how to be sure that the tree I would purchase is truly podless? I called a place near Plant City and they have a couple of white ones but her reply was that all Bauhinia's have pods. She said she never heard of a seedless one before, yet she thinks many folks call other trees that look similar a Bauhinia.

I was ready to go pick one up but would hate to plant something I truly dont want.

White seems nice in pics, I am not sure about in person.

I dunno what to do!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 2:09PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Tony, the white one has pods. If she is not familiar with the Bauhinia blakeana (hong kong orchid tree), go someplace else. It is worth finding as the blooms are more vivid, better shaped and is truly sterile- no pods. Google it. Even if you have to get it thru the mail, they grow very fast, so don't let it deter you from what you want. A tree is a long-term investment.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 3:49PM
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I agree with annafl. You really want to go with blakeana on this one. The white one is pretty and seeds alot too. I would say if you are getting one other that the blakeana, grow it from seed or get a seedling. It is not worth spending the $$ on a tree that grows very quickly.
But I would shop around for the blakeana. I know that Excalibur Trees in Palm Beach County has them. I grow the pink and white from seeds and after germination, it takes about 1 year to get to about 6-7 feet. I have seeds if you need some.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 6:04PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Anna, Trini, thanks for the input on this tree.

I felt the SAME WAY when the woman on the phone said they ALL HAVE PODS! I have a couple seeds I was soaking and going to plant but may still do so, but not seriously. I would hate to have a tree that has such huge pods when a seedless one is available.

I did email Excalibur and did find a nursery in S Florida on the west coast I may order from.

I agree, the Blakeana is the absolute way to go!

I have a branch cutting of the blakeana I dipped in rooting hormone and have it on the shady side of the house. It would be great imo to know if its possible to root these trees.

Hope to be showing off my purchase soon.

Thanks again everyone for the input.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 8:31PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Ordered a Blakeana today! I am pacing the floor now wondering how good the plant is that they will select and send.

Hopefully it may be here this week.

Thanks everyone for all the tips and experiences with the Orchid Tree!


    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 3:06PM
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eric_9b(z9b Orlando)

B. x blakeana is one of the best flowering trees. It is sterile and has a longer bloom period than the 2 parents (B. purpurea and B. variegata). They can start in late fall and flower until late spring, even some sporadic blooms in early summer.

For a white blooming Bauhinia, there are several. B. acuminata is a big shrub or small tree that flowers in summer and fall. B. forficata bears big white flowers in summer. It grows in sun or shade but the flowers last better if it gets filtered light in late afternoon. It is very fast growing, 2 year old seedlings can be 6ft tall and flower. It is also hardy into the low 20sF. B. mexicana has small white flowers during the warmer months. It is also hardy into the lower 20s and is very drought tolerant. B. divaricata is similar but there is also a pink form. One last one is a rare tree from northern South America, B. tarapotensis. It has slender white flowers in summer.
Orlando,FL z9b/10a

B. x blakeana

B. acuminata

B. forficata

B. mexicana

B. divaricata 'Rosea'

B. tarapotensis

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:25AM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

I got the orchid tree yesterday. I think its a good size.

I placed it in a container till the threat of really cold weather is over. (i think it already is!)

Anyways, again, thanks for sharing all the info on the various orchids trees. I am very confident I made the right choice with all your help.

BTW, Its the blakeana


    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 8:39PM
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My Bauhinia (hong cong orchid) can stand temps down in the 20's, that is sure what yours looks like to me? so plant it already, they can be prunned almost anytime, mine is so laden down with orchids right now branches touch the grass.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 7:38PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Hi SusieQ,

I may just do that! If I get a chance tomorrow, I will plant it in a spot we have decided upon.

Do you have any pics of yours in bloom?

How old is it?


    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 7:57PM
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Tony, I have a big Bauhinia. I have to say that it blooms differently in Central Florida. Mine blooms in early spring and sometimes the blooms are terrific and other years they are just so, so. One year all the leaves fell off and then the entire tree became a huge, fragrant bouquet of flowers. That year it was the first one that attracted hummingbirds. The next year it hardly blossomed at all. I'm not sure why.

One negative is that it loses a lot of branches. You will find quite a few at the base of the tree. They aren't big and they are easy to carry away, but the lawnmower doesn't like them.

I remember taking bike rides maybe thirty years ago and finding this beautiful orchid tree. I swore that one day I would grow one. Now I have.

It gets big, by the way. Mine is maybe twenty five to thirty feet tall and about as wide.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:38PM
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Here's mine...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 11:11AM
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abendwolke(9 FL)

that's a pretty tree Susie :-)

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 11:21AM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Hi Susie, thanx for the pic, how old is it? It looks great!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 11:25AM
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Not sure of age exactly, but a good guess would be 3/4 yrs. old? planted after hurricane Charley took down 3 of our 4 huge Oaks, one was left, so we flanked each side of it with an orchid tree, have no idea of age in pot's from nursery.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 1:12PM
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I think you will be very happy with your B blakeana, they are great trees, a big plus is the lack of pods.

I am wondering if anyone grows the Bauhinia vine Bauhinia sirindhorniae. Any info anyone can give me?


    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 5:12PM
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plastechie(9b Tampabay)

Be very cautious about buying a "Hong Kong Orchid" from a nursery when it is not flowering. The true Hong Kong Orchid is B Blakeana and is sterile. We bought a "Hong Kong Orchid" about 12 ft tall with a 2" trunk for $600 only to find out it was a B purpurea. We rescued four volunteers from the seeds, then asked for our money back from the nursery. After much back and forth, with the nursery claiming that even Hong Kong Orchids have seeds, we got our money back. When we told the nursery to take out the false Hong Kong Orchid, they cut it down instead. Our volunteers are now 12 ft tall with 2" trunks, grown from seed in 3 yr. We are now growing others from the seeds of these volunteers.
Our neighbor, who lives on the water, has a 30 ft tall by 30 ft around B purpurea that is 25 yr old. Our Miani daughter's tree is the same size and age. Bauhinias can be ravaged by high winds and freezing temps, but they come back.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 2:22PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

The tag on mine says Bauhinia blakeana and should be the podless one.

It was loaded with leaves when it arrived but has lost all its leaves during the recent cold snap.

Here is a pic of new leaves forming....

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 5:07PM
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plastechie(9b Tampabay)

Tony k, where did you buy your B Blakeana? I'd love to get a "replacement" for my fake one.
I wouldn't worry about leaf drop. The tree rapidly recovers in the spring (with possibly some dead twigs).

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 5:28PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)


I sent you an email with the info.

I was unable to post it here let alone send it via GW email.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 6:06PM
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I have heard about a dwarf variety of Hong Kong Orchid trees with scarlet blooms. Does anyone have one? I'd like to see photos before I purchase one.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 6:05PM
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plastechie(9b Tampabay)

Just rec'd the B. Blakeana from the Punta Gorda grower. The stock is ~4 ft tall with a thumb-sized trunk and two side shoots. My guess is a year from air root to seedling, then 2-3 yrs in the ground to get to this size. This is a great deal for the money. Again, thanx for the reference. This looks like a great place to shop for other tropicals and subtropicals. I'll probably pot it for a year to stabilize it, then plant it in the ground. My daughter's HKO is about 20 yr old and is easily 30 ft tall and 30 ft around. She now knows to not plant these things too close to walk- and driveways!

Again, thanx for your tip!


Most of the time was not spent in potting it (50 gal pot). It was spent in picking up the loose fill packaging!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 2:10PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)

Hi Jim,

That plant was definitly packed well and shipped fast and I agree that packing was a pain. I did use the box it came in a couple times during the cold snaps we had, who knows if if truly helped or not.

When I ordered mine, I asked for a plant with no side shoots so new ones could be hopefully trained higher up on the tree. I have seen some where there were multiple shoots coming out of the ground and resembled a bush more than a tree.

Mine is the same size and thickness as you describe.

Their site looks good to me, their plant seemed healthy and priced right, yet that site is filtered out of GW for some reason. Perhaps to promote business at sponsor sites is my hunch.

In a few months, let's see if they have grown a bunch of new leaves and then compare em.

Glad it worked out for ya.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Jeffrey--the scarlet bauhinia could very well be the Bauhinia galpinii or B. punctata (depending on how current the grower is on botanical names).

From a distance it looks like a bouganvillea aflame, and it flowers in summer and fall. Never really getting taller than 6-10' it seems, but all bauhinias can get haircuts.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 8:32PM
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Does anyone know when they are supposed to start blooming. I read on another web sitem that they typically start in mid winter, but mine has nothing on it.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 9:36AM
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plastechie(9b Tampabay)

Tony, good idea. Bookmark this site and I'll do the same. Regarding side branches, I'm gonna keep them until I'm sure the main trunk survives the next six mo or so. Then I'll clip them off. Just remember, you can't start these things from clippings. You need to air root them. I may just air root the side branches before I off them.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 4:55PM
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