It's summer and many trees are in full bloom. But one umbrella-shaped tree, catches our attention instantly. It's the flamboyant tree. It can be spotted from a distance due to the flowers in a riot of colors like red, orange, and yellow. It is rightly known as the flame tree due to its splashy display of clustered red colored flowers.
The other name for this tree is the Royal Poinciana Tree, and is a species of flowering plant. Its leaves are elegant, lace-like, and fern-like; and the flowers have five petals. It stays in bloom for several weeks in the spring and the summer seasons. This tree is found in South Florida, Southwest Florida, South Texas, Southern California, Hawaii, and the US Virgin Islands in the United States of America. It is also found in countries like Barbados, Caribbean Islands, and Asian countries like India, China, and Japan. An annual festival is celebrated in Miami for its flowering.
Royal poinciana is a fast growing tree. It can grow up to 5 feet per year till maturity. It's essential to bear in mind that this tree requires a lot of space to grow. It can grow very tall, but its graceful umbrella like canopy can be wider than its height. Apart from this, you need to understand things like - how to plant the seeds, the type of climate needed for its growth, and the pH requirements of the soil.
Flamboyant tree seeds are unusual. The seed pods are dark brown, and are 60 cm long and 5 cm wide, but the individual seeds are small. These seeds are very hard with a tight covering. This cover does not allow water to seep through. So, if these seeds are planted, the success of germination is very less. Hence, we cannot use these seeds in this form for growing a tree. They need to be treated before you can use them for germination.
There are two ways to overcome this problem. One way to increase the success rate of the germination process is by laying the seeds on a flat surface, and rubbing them with sandpaper for about 12 seconds. This process needs to be repeated on the other side of the seed. These seeds then need to be soaked overnight. The seed covers will start peeling off from the seeds. Plant these seeds in a large pot about 20 millimeter deep in the soil. They will germinate in about six days successfully. The second way to get the seeds to germinate faster is to place them in boiling water. Add cold water to it, and drop the temperature. Soak these seeds for 24 hours. Sow these seeds in a pot, and place the pot in a warm place. The seeds germinate in four to six days.
A tropical or a near tropical climate is required for the growth of the flamboyant tree. It can, however, also grow in drought and salty conditions with regular water supply. It requires full sun exposure to grow fast into a healthy tall tree. Ensure that it gets moderate supply of water regularly. This tree cannot tolerate frost. The frost will rot the roots, and the tree will die. Moreover, as the flamboyant tree is deciduous in winter, i.e., it sheds its leaves during the winter, it requires a dry climate. Sparingly water this plant in winter. This trees cannot be exposed to temperatures below 7.2oC.
Flamboyant tree can be grown in a wide range of well-drained soils from acidic to alkaline. It is also tolerant of loamy and gravelly soils. The soil pH requirements are 5.6 to 6.0 acidic and 6.1 to 6.5 mildly acidic. The tree tolerates hard pruning and can easily be kept at a small size. The branches can grow up to 40 feet in height. These branches need to be pruned just below the crown. Young trees need to be pruned every year for the first three years. This makes the tree grow in a better form. While pruning the trees, care needs to be taken to see that the branches are clipped in an umbrella shape. Only then the tree will look elegant after it reaches maturity.
This tree requires regular water in its growing years, and very little water in the dormant season. Full exposure to sun is absolutely necessary for its growth, so don't plant it during the winter season. Use balanced liquid fertilizers each month to ensure good growth. Remember to add a fresh two-inch layer of mulch during the winter season. Mulching will help in retaining the moisture in the soil, and will stop the cold from reaching the roots as the frost can deteriorate the roots.
Also, the roots of the royal poinciana are wide-spreading which do not allow any other tree to grow under it. They are so strong that they may affect the foundations of your house. So ensure that these trees are planted in open spaces. This tree grows without much care and provides good shade. So, plant this tree today, and get a lifetime of happiness.