One of the world’s brightest trees! The poinciana tree (delonix regia) is native to Madagascar, the bright orange flowers herald the coming of summer. Poinciana trees are a semi deciduous tree – shedding the old leaves in spring, but new ones follow immediately, so it’s never without foliage. Poinciana trees can grow up to 10 metres, but mostly commonly 3 to 5 metres. However, they are still not recommended for a small yard.
If you have ever wondered how to grow poinciana trees in Perth then look no further. Poinciana trees are a relatively easy tree to grow, and there are a few tricks to successfully growing poinciana trees in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.
When to plant poinciana trees in Perth:
The best time to plant poinciana trees is between autumn to early spring, as there is no risk of frost.
How much water do poinciana trees need:
While your poinciana tree establishes it’s roots, it needs regular watering during spring, summer especially. It’s important that the ground is moist but never over-watered. You can gradually slow down the watering as fall approaches and dial down again in winter, at which point you can stop altogether most years.
Once your poinciana tree is established a few years, water when the soil gets too dry or if it’s dry and hot outside. Poinciana trees are drought tolerant so don’t fuss to much. Additionally, poinciana trees will usually flower better when conditions are drier!
How to grow poinciana trees at home:
For best results, plant in a full sun location which has free-draining quality soil, preferably soil with a high organic component.
Plant in a warm, frost-free location, sheltered from strong winds. Poinciana is a tree of the tropics and sub-tropics, however it can be grown successfully in Perth and the warmer parts of Western Australia.
How to grow a poinciana tree from seed:
Growing poinciana trees from seeds is a good idea as it is very easy to grow poinciana from seeds.
- Simply, remove the seeds from the large, bean-like pod.
- Place them in a container and cover with warm water. Leaving the seeds to soak for around 24 hours.
- Plant each poinciana seed into an individual pot filled with a seed-raising mix and keep moist and warm until they germinate.
- After 6 to 8 weeks your plant will be ready to transfer into the garden.
How to grow poinciana trees in pots:
If grown in a pot, poinciana trees rarely grow taller than 3 to 4 m. To help the tree achieve a nice, round umbrella-like canopy, regular pruning is needed.
The compound leaves of the plant are long, measuring up 50 cm and featuring 20 to 40 pairs of leaflets.
- Harvest the long poinciana seed pods from the ground around. Look for seeds that are naturally cracked open.
- Next, germinate the seeds, which involves softening the seed coat. Place them in a container and cover with warm water. Leaving the seeds to soak for around 24 hours.
- Scarify each poinciana seed by gently nicking one end with the knife. This will speed up the germination process.
- Spread high quality, seed raising potting mix onto a seed tray — about 8 -10 cm in depth. Just don’t use straight potting soil, as this will be too heavy.
- Sow your poinciana sees 2.5 cm deep and 8 – 10 cm apart . Firm the soil around each seed to ensure good contact. Place them in a warm and partially shaded location.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not wet. The seedlings will need regular watering while they develop, but you don’t want to drown them either.
- Germination of poinciana seeds typically takes in 5-6 weeks. When they reach 20 cm in height, you can transfer them to a larger pot.
- Continue re-potting until established, then transplant to your garden and water regularly until they begin to mature.
How to propagate Royal poinciana?
Take a 30 to 40 cm long section of a Royal poinciana tree branch. Simply, dust the ends where you have cut the branch with a rooting hormone to help the cutting grow roots. Then plant the cuttings about 10 to 15 cm deep in the ground, and water regularly until established.
How to fertilise poinciana trees trees:
Poinciana tree’s will require minimal feeding once established. However, when it is young, summer and autumn applications of a controlled-release fertiliser and side dressing with a well-composted manure will aid establishment and development.
Phosphatic fertiliser can aid in flowering and can be applied at the start of spring.
When do poinciana trees bloom:
A typical poinciana tree will bloom for several weeks in spring and summer. The tree will be covered with wonderful clusters of flame-red flowers, 10 to 12 cm across. Up close the individual flowers have four fan-shaped with orange-red petals about 7.5 cm long, and one upright slightly larger petal which is marked with yellow and white.
The age of the poinciana tree is a big determining factor for the likelihood to bloom. Poincianas shouldn’t be expected to bloom until reaching at least five to six years of age, sometimes older. If they have been grown from a parent or parents with good flowering genes they should eventually follow suit.
When to prune poinciana trees:
Mature poinciana trees will require very minimal pruning, unless you are removing any damaged or dead branches. In the early years, pruning your poinciana tree can assist with the development of the main trunk by removing any side branches that develop until the main trunk reaches the 2m tall mark.
How long can poinciana trees live:
Poinciana is a relatively fast-growing tree. In good growing conditions poinciana will grow at least 1.5 m each year. The lifespan poinciana trees rarely exceeds 40 years, which in tree relatively short in tree terms.
Are poinciana trees poisonous?
If you own a cat or a dogs, poinciana may not be for you. The seeds and seed pods of Royal Poinciana are toxic to dogs and cats, and can poison them if ingested. If you do have pets, make sure to rake up pods regularly so pets don’t eat them.
Symptoms of Poinciana poisoning in animals include vomiting, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and mouth irritation. If you are concerned your pet has been poisoned please see a vet immediately.
Poinciana tree care and common problems:
Poinciana trees are susceptible to borers, which target many Australian native trees. Inspect your poinciana tree regularly for pin-holes underneath peeling and damaged bark. Act swiftly to avoid long term tree damage.
Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides: