How to Plant and Care for your Hong Kong Orchid Tree
Hong Kong Orchid trees or Bauhinia x Blakeana have large scented pink to purple flowers in Spring-Summer. These charming trees have unique bi-lobed leaves that actually look like resting butterflies.
Hong Kong Orchid trees are great for small to medium-sized gardens, as a shade or privacy tree near a deck or patio, and for median strip plantings on streets and highways. Interestingly, these trees are not related to the orchid family at all. In fact, they are actually related to legumes, that is, common peas and beans.
In this article, we'll discuss how you can plant and nurture a Hong Kong Orchid tree in the Australian climate.
Planting your Orchid Tree
Hong Kong Orchid trees are drought tolerant once established and flower in abundance in dry soil. These trees thrive under full sun but can also be planted in partial shade.
Transferring the plant from its nursery container to a suitable spot in your garden.
Step 1: Clear weeds and other debris from the planting site and water the plant in its nursery pot to ensure the roots are well hydrated.
Step 2: Dig a planting hole in the shape of a deep bowl. The hole should be three times the diameter of the nursery pot and at least an inch deeper.
Step 3: Carefully dislodge the plant from the container so as not to damage the root ball.
Step 4: Lower the plant into the hole, making sure the trunk is upright and the base of the trunk is an inch above the surrounding soil.
Step 5: Fill one-third of the planting hole with loose soil and set it in place with water. Continue until the hole is sufficiently filled.
Step 6: Erect two support stakes at the outer edge of the planting hole. Secure the trunk to the stakes with staking straps about 6-7 inches below the lowest branch of your transplanted tree.
Step 7: Build a berm (artificial ditch) about 3 inch tall around the base of the tree with a 12 inch diameter and fill it up with water. Fill in the berm with water and add a 2-inch layer of mulch when the water is absorbed.
Step 8: Water the plant twice a week and avoid over-irrigation by holding back when it rains.
Pruning your Orchid Tree
The branches begin to droop as the tree matures, so methodical pruning is required to ensure your tree develops a strong structure.
Hong Kong Orchid trees tend to have more than one main trunk. However, the topmost trunk is the guide and will direct the vertical growth of the tree. Prune the side branches of the tree (and not the guide) for the first 3-4 years to create a wide, umbrella-shaped canopy.
The show-stopping blooms of the Hong Kong Orchid tree make it a wonderful addition to gardens and open spaces. These trees also grow quite fast, adding about a foot or more to their height every year. A beautiful tree that will reward you with abundant flowers.
You can purchase premium Hong Kong Orchid trees online or in person by visiting us in Oakford by appointment.