Plant Clinic

Stunning royal poinciana has a natural shape

Can you tell me more about the royal poinciana? Do you have to trim them to have that pretty shape?

W.M., Key Largo

The natural shape of this stunning flowering tree is usually flat-topped or domed. Therefore, pruning is not needed for it to form its natural shape.

The royal poinciana ( Delonix regia)is native to Madagascar and is considered one of the world’s most beautiful flowering trees. Trees can potentially grow to 40 feet or more in height, although in South Florida they rarely get that tall. The width is often wider than the height. Like many other large maturing trees, it can form large surface roots — especially in south Miami-Dade and Monroe counties — that may damage nearby sidewalks and driveways if planted too close.

This tree grows up to five feet per year until it reaches maturity.

Pods are formed after flowering, which may look messy. It’s also deciduous in the dry season; however, the leaves don’t need to be raked up since they decompose quickly.

A pure yellow-flowered form is occasionally seen in South Florida and in the Caribbean. Some flowering tree nurseries are propagating this color form.

Since it’s a large tree, you’ll need a large yard to accommodate it. Like most plants, water until it’s established. How often you need to water and how long it takes a plant to become established depends on its size at planting and when you plant it. For instance, during the dry season, a tree that has a trunk diameter (caliper) at chest height of less than 2 inches should be watered daily for the first two weeks. Then, every two days for the next two months, and then weekly until it’s established. It takes about three months per inch caliper for a plant to become established. At that point, additional watering should not be needed.

Based on research done in Florida, during the establishment period the tree can be watered less frequently but the tree may not thrive as well.

During the rainy season, you can water less often, but check the root ball to make sure it isn’t drying out. Check the soil moisture a couple inches below the soil surface with your finger.

This UF publication goes into detail about caring for recently planted trees :


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