The showiest of all trees grown in South Florida is the Royal Poinciana. It is native to Madagascar and is also known as The Red Flame tree and sometimes called the Flamboyant Tree.
The tree may be too large for many small gardens as it is best grown as a single specimen tree. It is at its most imposing when grown where there are no other trees within 30 feet. The tree canopy is impressive having a unique wide shape umbrella crown….definitely a show stopper!
The flowers appear to be an intense orange-red in color, however, upon close inspection, there is a white petal that appears to be folded up. Some botanists seem to think that the white petal may serve as a nectar guide for pollinators as the unfolding of the white petal coincides with the ripening of the pollen.
Later in the summer, the long seed pods form after the flowers have been pollinated and the leaves have fallen (since the trees are deciduous). Do not worry…..the seeds do not germinate quickly and become a nuisance germinating throughout the garden (seeds often take years to germinate). In early summer, the flowers appear to be on bare branches, however the beautiful compound lacey foliage adds a beautiful contrast to the flowers.
Trees do exceptionally well in zone 10 that primarily includes the counties of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe. Trees should be planted in full sun in well drained soil. The root system is somewhat superficial and not deep rooted in nature. Therefore, it is not wise to plant with nearby plants because the roots of the Poinciana will compete for water and nutrients. Watering should be done routinely until trees are well established. Fertilizing three times a year (spring, summer and fall) will encourage good growth.
You can learn more about this tree and other gardening questions by attending The Equality Park Garden Club which meets at The Pride Center every third Wednesday of the month at 7:30 PM. The Pride Center is located at 2040 North Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors.