Beautiful pink, red, orange, yellow, white, or purple blooms resembling blooms growing on orchid plants adorn the orchid tree, which is a little multi-stemmed tropical tree. Orchid trees also feature leathery, double-lobed green leaves that resemble the print of a cow’s hoof, in addition to their distinct appearance. Orchid trees are evergreen species in some cases. Others, such as deciduous trees, lose their leaves during the dry season or in the winter.
The most usual forms of lovely orchid trees are described in this article. You’ll also learn how to grow orchid trees in your garden landscape if you live in warm states such as south Texas, Florida, Hawaii, and southern California.
What Is Orchid Tree (Bauhinia)
The genus Bauhinia and the family Fabaceae include orchid trees (Bauhinia). India, China, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam are all home to orchid trees, which are native to Asia. The Anacacho orchid tree, also known as Texas Plume, grows wild in the Anacacho Mountains of Texas and is found in some orchid tree species.
Orchid trees, which grow to a height of 20 to 40 feet (6 to 12 meters) and have a spread of 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters), are quick-growing huge tropical shrubs or trees. The orchid-like blooms of the trees, which bloom in winter and last until early summer, are well-known.
USDA zones 9 to 11 are ideal for orchid trees. The tree produces long, flat brown seed pods after blooming, which are characteristic of many pea family Fabaceae trees. This semi-evergreen shrub-like tree’s green leafy foliage in colder regions may fall. Orchid trees are heat-loving plants that thrive in full sun and moist soils, despite the fact that certain varieties of orchid trees survive a light frost. Orchid trees must be grown at a minimum temperature of 22°F (−6°C).
Orchid Tree Flower
Depending on the species, orchid tree flowers may be pink, purple, red, yellow, orange, or white. The lovely fragrance comes from orchid-like pink, yellow, white, purple, and red blossoms. The majority of orchid tree blooms feature five petals and long arching stamens, resulting in striking tropical tree blooms.
On the flag of Hong Kong, orchid trees bloom. A pinkish-purple five-petaled flower of the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia blakeana) is known as the so-called “Hong Kong flower.” The Hong Kong Flag has a white orchid tree blossom with a star pattern.
Bauhinia blakeana flower is featured on the Hong Kong flag.
Orchid Tree Leaves
The leaves of the Bauhinia tomentosa (yellow bell orchid tree) are glossy, leathery heart-shaped leaves with two twin lobes. The leaves of the orchid tree are likened to butterfly wings, and they may fold together on trees on either side. The rounded top and bottom of orchid tree leaf lobes are common.
Orchid Tree Care
Grow the orchid tree in rich, well-drained sandy soil in full sun or part shade to take care of it. throughout the summer, keep the orchid tree watered. To encourage blooming in late winter, fertilize the tree with compost and potassium-rich fertilizer. Before and after blooming, prune twice a year.
Types of Orchid Tree (Bauhinia) with Pictures
In warm sub-tropical and tropical climates, there are four common types of orchid trees that we’ll look at in more detail.
Variegated Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata)
The variegated orchid tree is a shrub-like plant with flamboyant five-petaled pink, purple, and white blossoms that can be found in the Bauhinia variegata group. Variegated orchid trees have a bi-lobed, heart-shaped leaf crown that is irregular. Ornamental variegated orchid trees may grow 33 to 40 feet (10 to 12 meters) tall and broad. The lobes at the base and apex of variegated orchid tree leaves are rounded, with a characteristic deep fringe. Like two round butterfly wings, this characteristic gives the orchid tree leaves a heart shape.
The leaves are 4 to 7 inches (10 to 20 cm) long and broad. In the dry season, the leaves of this semi-deciduous tree fall. Long bean-like seed pods up to 12 inches (30 cm) long are produced by variegated orchid trees. Dry pods on the tree begin to twist, giving the tree an unusual form. With a distinct crack, the pods eventually open. Mountain ebony, purple orchid tree, and ebony wood are some of the other names for the variegated orchid tree.
Orchid Tree Flower
Five-petaled white, pink, and purple orchid-like flowers bloom on Bauhinia variegata (on the right is Bauhinia variegata Candida). A single blossom might have many colors and has five open petals with a papery texture and wavy edges. 3″ to 5″ (7.5 to 13 cm) across are the flowers of the variegated orchid tree. At the ends of stems, showy variegated orchid tree flowers bloom in clusters. All orchid tree flowers have the characteristic of giving off a pleasant fragrance when in bloom.
Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhinia purpurea)
The purple orchid tree is a multi-stemmed shrub-like plant with masses of gorgeous purple flowers, heart-shaped leaves, and long brown seed pods. The vase-shaped, symmetrical crown of purple orchid trees has a moderate foliage density. Purple orchid trees grow to be 30 to 35 feet (9 – 10 meters) tall and broad, making them a fast-growing kind of tree.
Green matte heart-shaped leaves with a deep cleft or lob at the apex, purple orchid tree leaves are green. The gap between the two lobes of these tree leaves is nearly to the base in certain leaves. On purple orchid trees, the leaves are 2″ to 4″ (2.5 to 5 cm) long and grow alternately. Instead of changing color, they turn green in the autumn.
There are several stems on the shrub-like tree. You may grow a stunning specimen tree or lawn tree by pruning the orchid tree. Pruning may be required to walk or drive beneath the tree due to the low-growing, drooping branches. Purple orchid trees have extended brown seed pods, as do other types of orchid trees. Before opening to disperse the tiny seeds, these 6″ to 12″ (15 – 30 cm) long pods harden on the tree.
Orchid Tree Flower
Showy purple or magenta pink blooms adorn the purple orchid tree. The ends of each bloom resemble those of a showy orchid blossom, and each bloom has five lovely petals with frilly borders. White veins, protruding stamens, and a wonderful fragrance characterize the orchid tree blooms.
The diameter of the flowers ranges from 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 13 cm). The purple orchid tree has an unusual characteristic of having its blooms emerge before the foliage fall. The leafless branches of the tree are then covered in decorative, spectacular purple blooms in the autumn.
Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia blakeana)
With showy orchid-like flowers, double-lobed butterfly-like leaves, no seed pods, and dark brown bark, the Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia blakeana) is a flowering shrub-like tree. The orchid tree grows to be 12 to 20 feet (3.6 to 6 meters) tall and 25 feet (7.6 meters) broad, with an irregular crown.
The hybrid Hong Kong orchid tree, unlike other Bauhinia trees, does not release any seed pods. Since there is no maintenance, an ornamental tree is ideal for garden landscapes. The multi-trunked orchid tree can develop as a specimen, blooming, or foundation planting if it is pruned correctly.
Large, broadleaf evergreen blades with a spherical form and a deep rounded cleft at the apex make up the leaves of the Hong Kong orchid tree. The bi-lobed leaves are 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 13 cm) broad and spread butterfly-like. Orchid tree leaves are regarded as lucky in some societies and are used as a sign of knowledge. Propagation is by stem cuttings, graft, or air-layering because the Hong Kong orchid tree is seedless.
Orchid Tree Flower
Fragrant, flamboyant, and colorful blossoms of pink or purple-lavender Hong Kong orchid tree flowers The blooming season of “Hong Kong flowers” is long, and they grow in clusters all over the tree, as do other orchid trees. The 4″ to 6″ (10 – 15 cm) wide flowers have beautiful five-petaled blooms. A blooming orchid tree (Bauhinia blakeana) is depicted in Hong Kong. The orchid tree blooms in Hong Kong are white on a crimson backdrop, despite the fact that they are a vivid pink.
Anacacho Orchid Tree or White Orchid Tree (Bauhinia lunarioides)
You may cultivate the white orchid tree (Bauhinia lunarioides) as a multi-stemmed shrub. Snow-white orchid-like five-petalled blooms bloom in thick clusters on the lovely decorative orchid tree, which blossoms during the winter and spring. The tree has silvery-gray bark and thick, heart-shaped leathery leaves that create fairly dense foliage.
Southwestern Texas and Northern Mexico are home to the Bauhinia lunarioides. Texas plume, Anacacho orchid tree, Mexican orchid tree, and Anacacho bauhinia are all terms used to describe the white-flowering ornamental trees.
Anacacho orchid trees reach a height of 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.6 meters) and width of up to 10 feet (3 meters). The open, spreading, rounded crown of the small shrub-like tree All orchid tree varieties have the typical features of white orchid tree leaves. The little, rounded twin-lobed leaves have a thick, leathery feel and range in length from 0.8 to 2 inches (2 to 5 cm).
Orchid Tree Flower
The showy, funnel-shaped orchid-like white (or pink) blooms of the Anacacho orchid tree bloom in vast clusters from late spring to early summer. The Texas plume has fragrant blossoms that bloom across the orchid tree when it is in full bloom, as do other orchid tree flowers.
Planting an Orchid Tree
If you live in USDA zones 9 to 11, orchid trees are relatively simple to care for. Planting orchid trees in sheltered areas is optimal. They don’t grow well in coastal areas because Bauhinia isn’t salt-tolerant. In addition, to avoid brittle stems from breaking, a young orchid tree requires staking.
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball to plant an orchid tree in your garden. Make sure the roots are pointing downwards. 1″ (2.5 cm) above the soil line should be the base of the trunk.
After that, place the tree back in the hole and make sure it is straight. For the first three years after being planted, orchid trees need to be staked. Large containers are also suitable for growing orchid trees. Choose a container two sizes bigger than the root ball, with adequate drainage holes throughout.
Use loamy potting soil that is rich in nutrients. On your patio or deck, place the potted orchid tree in full or partial sunlight. Whenever the top layer of soil is dry, water the orchid trees in a pot.
How to Care for Orchid Tree
For orchid trees growing in your front or backyard, here are a few helpful hints on how to care for them.
The Right Location to Plant Orchid Tree
Planting an orchid tree in full sun, sandy or loamy, well-drained soil is the greatest location in a garden. In addition, sun-loving trees perform well in part shade. Orchid trees, on the other hand, thrive with at least six hours of sunlight each day to promote healthy growth and plentiful orchid-like blooms.
It’s important to remember that orchid trees aren’t toughy tolerateing harsh, frigid weather. Trees that are regularly exposed to 22°F or -6°C frosts can only develop as multi-stemmed shrubs. Semi-evergreen trees may drop their leaves during the winter and die back before blooming again the following spring.
How to Water Orchid Tree
During the growing season, orchid trees thrive when they are given adequate deep watering. Every ten days, water the flowering tree during hot weather to keep its roots wet. To avoid the soil from drying out in the winter, you only need to water orchid trees occasionally.
Once established, orchid trees are drought tolerant. Moreover, certain orchid species are indigenous to dessert-like conditions. As a result, certain dry spells will have much impact on their development.
Fertilizing Orchid Tree
In the winter, orchid trees may be fertilized with organic manure or compost, which is sufficient. Some individuals, however, suggest applying a slow-release granular fertilizer three times a year in the spring, summer, and fall. Older trees often benefit from a high- potassium fertilizer to promote healthy blooms.
Pruning Orchid Tree
To produce a specimen or lawn tree rather than a multi-trunk enormous shrub, pruning an orchid tree is required. To form a single-stemmed tree, an orchid tree sends up suckers that must be removed. Furthermore, orchid tree branches are prone to breakage and should be trimmed to maintain the tree’s form.
After the orchid tree finishes blooming, pruning is best in late spring. To keep the orchid tree healthy and encourage next season’s blooms, you can trim one-third to one-quarter of the branch length. You should also trim any branches that fall within the tree’s canopy. The umbrella-shaped canopy of the orchid tree is helped to survive. Dead branches can generally be eliminated at any time of year.
Propagating Orchid Tree
Seed or semi-ripe stem cuttings are simple ways to grow orchid trees. In the summer, when orchid tree seeds burst open, you may collect them. Before storing them until the following spring, allow them to dry before doing so. Soak the seeds for a few days before planting after the last frost. Seedlings should sprout in three weeks after being put in moist soil. Once four leaves have emerged, transfer to a big container.
The majority of orchid trees may be grown from semi-mature branches taken in late summer, including the Hong Kong orchid tree. Cuttings of orchid trees can be put right into the soil to root. Remember to stake the cuttings so they have support.
Pests Affecting Orchid Tree Growth
Pest infestations are not usually a problem with orchid trees. Mealybugs, aphids, and whiteflies are the major pests that affect orchid trees. Using a forceful stream of water is usually effective in getting rid of these insects from the tree’s leaves. Or, treating diseased trees with neem oil may be accomplished at home.
Mealybugs deposit a white fuzzy substance that resembles cotton wool particles. On the underside of leaves, aphids and whiteflies are frequently visible.
Yellowing foliage and weak development on orchid trees are symptoms of a pest problem. Established orchid trees, on the other hand, are resistant to pest invasions and do not suffer from them.
Caterpillars, like other plants that grow in your yard, may harm leaves and alter the look and development of orchid trees, among other things. Learn how to identify the various caterpillar species that might harm your decorative landscaping plants.
Diseases Affecting Orchid Tree Growth
Leaf spot may harm orchid tree leaves even if it is resistant to disease. In certain situations, it may do so. Yellow, brown, tan, or black blotches may be found on the huge oval leaves. Leaf spot is caused by a fungus, which spreads swiftly over wet leaves from diseased trees.
To avoid spreading leaf spot to other shrubs and trees, it is vital to remove all sick leaves and burn them. Never compost them. By always watering the ground, not the foliage, you can help prevent plant fungus diseases from harming orchid trees.