Index > Garden Blog

Date: 24 Mar 2024, Entry id: 1711272962-1

Bauhinias: trees with Orchid Flowers
and Butterfly Wings...

Bauhinia variegata - Purple Orchid Tree

Photo above: Bauhinia variegata - Purple Orchid Tree, one of the most spectacular varieties.

Q: We just moved to Florida and I see these beautiful trees with large purple flowers. I was told these are Orchid trees, do you have them?

A: Bauhinias, commonly known as Orchid trees, are renowned for their captivating flowers and unique foliage. These trees typically grow to a moderate height of 15-25 feet with a spread of 10-15 feet, showcasing a rounded to vase-like shape. Thriving in hardiness zones 9-11, they exhibit resilience to heat and can withstand mild frost. There are over 300 species of Bauhinia, which are distributed in tropical and subtropical areas. These species vary in characteristics such as size, foliage, and flower color, contributing to the diversity and appeal of this genus. You can find them as trees, shrubs, and even vines.

Bauhinias are evergreen (in tropics) to semi-deciduous (in cooler climates), offering year-round beauty with intermittent blooming cycles. The peak bloom time varies depending on the species and location, often occurring in late winter to early spring, bedecking the tree with striking orchid-like flowers in hues ranging from white and pink to purple and red. The flowers boast delicate petals with intricate patterns, resembling the elegance of true orchids.

One of the distinguishing features of Bauhinia leaves is their unique bi-lobed or bilobed structure, which gives them a distinct appearance. The leaves are deeply divided, typically into two lobes or halves, hence the common name "Butterfly tree" due to their resemblance to butterfly wings. This characteristic is often used as an identifying trait for Bauhinia species. The bilobed leaves add to the visual appeal of the tree, contributing to its ornamental value in addition to its beautiful flowers.

Bauhinia monandra - Napoleons plume

Photo above: Bauhinia monandra - Napoleons Plume, starts flowering in small size. This one is very beautiful but the most cold sensitive and should be grown in pots in areas with winter freeze. It will happily bloom in container!

Low-maintenance by nature, Bauhinias require minimal upkeep. Annual feeding with a balanced fertilizer enhances growth and flowering. Pruning is generally optional but can be done in late winter or spring, after flowering, to maintain shape or remove dead or damaged branches. These trees thrive in full sun, preferring well-drained soil. With their enchanting blooms and easy care requirements, Bauhinia orchid trees are a delightful addition to any landscape, and a colorful specimen for tropical winter gardens.

In addition, Orchid trees grow fast and provide excellent shade. They can make a shady spot in your garden in no time, giving relief from the hot sun. This is really valuable, especially in places where it gets very hot. So, not only are Orchid trees pretty to look at with their lovely flowers, but they're also great for keeping you cool!

Read more about Bauninias:
Bauihnias: Orchid trees with Butterfly flowers... and leaves

Bauhinia x alba (candida) - White orchid tree

Photo above: Bauhinia x alba (candida) - White orchid tree, the most cold hardy variety that can take light freeze once established.

Bauhinia purpurea - Purple Orchid Tree

Photo above: Bauhinia purpurea - Purple Orchid Tree, one of the most popular and easy trees in Southern landscapes.