Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hong Kong Orchid Tree
Bauhinia x blakeana

Family: Caesalpiniaceae (ses-al-pin-ee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bauhinia (baw-HIN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: x blakeana

One vendor has this plant for sale.

21 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Pink
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By IslandJim
Thumbnail #1 of Bauhinia x blakeana by IslandJim

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Thumbnail #2 of Bauhinia x blakeana by sa_haiad

By sa_haiad
Thumbnail #3 of Bauhinia x blakeana by sa_haiad

By sa_haiad
Thumbnail #4 of Bauhinia x blakeana by sa_haiad

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Thumbnail #5 of Bauhinia x blakeana by palmbob

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Thumbnail #6 of Bauhinia x blakeana by htop

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Thumbnail #7 of Bauhinia x blakeana by htop

There are a total of 25 photos.
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18 positives
8 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral bruins888 On Jun 23, 2014, bruins888 from Mission Viejo, CA wrote:

I have a 7 year old HK Orchid tree. It has never flowered. Can someone help me? I live in Southern California

Positive acornk On May 12, 2014, acornk from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

I was in a panic because my beautiful tree was losing its leaves in early May til I came here and see that it is common! I had it in Hawaii and put one in my desert type garden in So. Calif. It is such a beautiful blooming tree. If you are in the proper climate, it is a winner! Thanks for info that May is shedding season.

Positive OgligleWakan On Jul 25, 2011, OgligleWakan from Pine Hills, FL wrote:

We've had them here about 20 years in Orlando, started from a single seed a friend mailed to us. They grow prolifically from seed dropped from the trees. I love this plant - it is so beautiful in bloom and the branch formations are so graceful. It's best planted in full sun, in a grouping so seedlings can just naturally (thinned for the best ones of course) replace the older trees, in a big yard where the setting is more natural since they tend to give grass a hard time from the dropped leaves and flowers. A tree here lasts about 10 years and then dies off, but by then it's made plenty of replacement seedlings if grown in this way. Ours need fairly aggressive pruning to bloom well.

Neutral learningsouthplants On Oct 17, 2010, learningsouthplants from Sarasota, FL wrote:

Would this be a suitable tree for planting along a salt-water canal, in zone 10? The tree would be planted between the house and the sea wall. Also, the ground cover would be crushed shell, with mulch around the tree itself. Thanks for any comments.

Positive soundstage28 On Aug 17, 2010, soundstage28 from Woodland Hills, CA wrote:

Comment from Toledo, OH about thorns is incorrect identification. None of the Hong Kong Orchids have thorns.

Comment from Walnut, CA about dying in May. It's probably not dying. In California they shed their leaves in May/June and look a bit ragged. Around July they come back full strength. *Early July add a little iron supplement and you'll have a gorgeous tree!* I get asked at least once a month "what type of tree is that? It's beautiful"

Be sure to get the hybrid with no seed pods. Most nurseries don't carry. Check's worth it and don't let the nursery tell you otherwise. Happened to me when seed pods started growing and dealer told me a "few pods are normal even on hybrid" - Baloney. It's like "a little pregnant" - They finally admitted mistake and replaced.

Positive tep On Aug 9, 2010, tep from Toledo, OH wrote:

The white variety has thorns; is fast growing and intrudes on pathways. In Kingwood we have the /pink purple variety(Not the Hong Kong?) and it does not have thorns or seed pods? Plant the thorny variety well away from people but where you can enjoy the blooms and birds/bees on the canopy.

Neutral meikei On May 7, 2010, meikei from Walnut, CA wrote:

I came from HongKong so I planted one HongKong Orchid Tree in my backyard last Oct. We used to use the leaves as bookmark. As I remember, the flower blooms during winter in Hong Kong. But my tree looks like it's dying until recently. I can see buds growing. Is this normal? I planted it in the middle of lawn area. Am I overwatering it?

Positive Naper1 On Jan 21, 2010, Naper1 from Spring, TX wrote:

We added 3 8 foot tall plants to our backyard in early 2009. Purple, White and Hong Kong variety. Beautiful daylily type blooms in shades of fuschia, white and purple colors with stripes. They have been severely effected by the nordic blast from a few weeks ago and we think we will have to wait until March, to determine whether or not the wrapping of the trees has protected them from the unusual weather. 1:3 of the trees was blooming this fall/winter and had blooms opening when the temperatures dropped to 23 degrees in our backyard. Wind chill I believe was 18 but does not effact the trees. Will let everyone know the end results in March, 2010. We are in zone 8B.

Positive birdstalker On Jan 9, 2010, birdstalker from Hobe Sound, FL wrote:

Excellent hummingbird attractor! When it is in bloom, all I have to do is focus my gaze on the flowers for a few minutes and I will see one.

I wouldn't consider this tree messy, unless you don't like pretty petals carpeting your lawn. (I love!) It does not drop seeds or pods. Just leaves, when it goes through its seasonal shedding cycle before sprouting gorgeous new leaves and flowering again. Simply the shape of the leaves alone is unique and lovely.

That being said, it might not be a good idea to plant it too close to a pool. Besides the dropping of the petals, you may not want that much shade near your pool. This tree will grow large, quickly! The more I prune mine, the more it grows and blooms. It has doubled in size in one year.

I don't understand why this tree is not seen more often in tropical climates since it is so striking and easy to grow. However, I am proud to have the only one in our neighborhood!

Positive LennyGTampa On Dec 15, 2009, LennyGTampa from Tampa, FL wrote:

I've grown this in Tampa for almost 5 years now. Fast growth to about 20' h x 25' w currently. Blooms profusely from November to March with very fragrant flowers that attract many bees. Blakeana is sterile, so no seed pods. However, leaves do create a mess occasionally and spent flowers cover the lawn in pink. The tree loses just about all leaves in spring and new leaves come back quickly just around late May.

Neutral phxphun On Apr 21, 2009, phxphun from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I understand some varieties do not shed seed pods, but I'm unclear on whether this tree would be considered 'messy' or not. I'm looking for a colorful tree to be used in a pool-side setting here in Phoenix. Can anyone comment on if this would be a good tree to use by a pool?

Positive starbabyonline On Apr 3, 2009, starbabyonline from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

Hi, brand new here. I found this gorgeous tree down the street from me, while taking a photography walk. I was planning on going back (after I took some breathtaking photos of this!) another day to ask the owner if I could have some seeds or cuttings.

Now I see that the tree is sterile, seed-wise. I haven't had much experience planting from cuttings. Would anyone please tell me what I need to do as far as actual cutting and then planting? I appreciate any help I can get SO much! Thanks in advance! :-)

Negative lisa924008 On Aug 19, 2008, lisa924008 from Hollywood, FL wrote:

I have planted many of these trees from seedlings over the last 2 years and found they grow almost overnight in the wild, but don't take well to transplanting. My Mother can't kill hers (she attacks it with a machete) - even Hurricane Wilma felling it hasn't stopped it! But - transplanted, they are slow growing and the new tender growth is a favorite of bugs. The leaves stay chewed. Also, they are VERY susceptible to Sri Lankan Weevils (they love them), snails and slugs. I don't like to use commercial pesticides but actually tried it on these - to no avail. I have used fertilizers, Spray and Grow (which works great on everything else), supplemented to the soil - everything I can think of. What I thought would be an almost carefree tree is anything but...

Positive Padmini On Aug 19, 2008, Padmini from Chennai
India wrote:

I live in an apartment where we have a job allotting parking space for owners' cars. A couple of years ago we were forced to cut down a beautiful Cassia marginata which had given us several seasons of flowers and grown taller than our four-storey building. This was because the long and chunky seed pods were denting the cars parked below.
In 1995, when the construction was completed, I had ( in innocence and ignorance) planted all the trees around the building without any idea of "collateral damage"!
Now I have put a Bauhinia blakeana in its place and we enjoy the gorgeous flowers without having to worry abt the damage likely to be caused by falling fruit.
Incidentally, I thought my neighbour very tolerant when she kept quiet after her brand-new car got two dents the very day she had taken delivery from the showroom.
However I found her not so tolerant when she grumbled about the flowers of Millingtonia hortensis showered on her car. I thought it must have been delightful to have their heavenly perfume.
Apparently you can have too much of a good thing; she said she found it a nuisance!

Dr. Padmini Raghavan in Chennai, South India.
(earlier Madras.)

Positive aliceisoutside On May 26, 2008, aliceisoutside from Lafayette, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a nice understory specimen in my garden, but not sure thats it's blakeana. Transplanted from a pot when it was about a half-inch in diameter. It's grown faster in the ground. Now, two inch diameter trunk and 12 ft. tall. The leaves are so interesting. However, no blooms. Help!

Negative swagowhale On Feb 26, 2008, swagowhale from Boynton Beach, FL wrote:

Planted this tree 3 weeks ago. Leaves have turned brown and fallen off.

Tree shows green when scratched. How long should it stay in this condition?

Positive redturtle On May 21, 2006, redturtle from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have the white, purple, and red varieties of the orchid tree. They all do very well in the Phoenix ,AZ area. The white, and the purple varieties are very easy to grow from seed. I haven't had much luck with the red hong kong orchids in propagation, i;ve tried air layering and cuttings but no luck yet. Oh all the flowers from these trees are very fragrant.

Positive phoenixtropical On Mar 8, 2006, phoenixtropical from Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Orchid trees do very well in the lower desert heat but have troubles with the saltiness of the Phoenix area water. Not all varities of orchid trees are created equal. The less common Hong Kong orchid tree is preferable to the more common Purple orchid tree. Most importantly, the Hong Kong is sterile so it does not produce the messy beans that the Purple does.

Positive Calalily On Dec 6, 2005, Calalily from Deep South Coastal, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love this tree! It starts blooming in November and continues till spring. It does not make seed, therefore is not invasive and does not make a mess with seedpods.
It grows fast if given ample water and kept from freezing. A little liquid sulphur mixed with chelated iron will keep it from getting iron chlorosis. It tolerates some salt.

Positive aquaape On Aug 24, 2005, aquaape from Berkeley, CA wrote:

Has anyone out there from Berkeley, CA tried this tree? I have a protected courtyard in need of a smallish tree. I have been told this will do well for me, but am still sceptical since a few too many of my focal points are now borderline hardy for my zone 9 (sunset 17).
Will it bloom well here? Will the blooms then turn to mush in our winter rains?

Neutral MBYCGardner On Apr 21, 2005, MBYCGardner from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I was wondering if anyone has heard that this tree does or doesn't fare well by the salt water environment - specifically Zone 10 and right by the bay/ocean. Has anyone had problems?

Positive east928 On Dec 13, 2004, east928 from Melbourne, FL wrote:

This tree is new to me. I fell in love with it at our local nursery because of the wintertime blooms! In my area, it blooms from NOVEMBER to APRIL! (space coast area of central coastal Florida between zone 9 and 10). Fast growing too.

Positive Patkinsel On Aug 26, 2004, Patkinsel from Houston, TX wrote:

I got a small orchid tree at the home show and I kept it potted for several years. When I finally planted it, in regular top soil, it took off. Within a year it had more that doubled in size. It is very sensitive to iron deficiency and should be treated with cheleated iron several times a year. It bloomed last May and was absolutely covered in buds. It took several weeks for the buds to open The blooms lasted about two months. It dropped all of its leaves after blooming. I don't know if that is normal or not. I fed it and now it is full and beautiful. Also, it had seed pods all over it. I was even able to start some of the seeds. This tree can handle a short freeze, but the foliage is tender.

Positive torranlm On Aug 20, 2004, torranlm from Mira Loma, CA wrote:

Beautiful, profuse flowering in season. Goes to seed and makes a bit of a mess, but grows incredibly easy from seed. Green year-round in Riverside, CA.

Neutral REDTOP1 On Jun 29, 2004, REDTOP1 from Long Beach, CA wrote:

I need help with this tree I planted 7 yrs. ago in grassy parkway. in LOS ANGELES CA. leaves are yellow with rust spots. branches are semi bare tree does bloom & flower but not full or as colorfull as others, trunk is 4 "dia , can you help
thanks, REDTOP1

Neutral MotherNature4 On Apr 30, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

About 30 years ago, B. blakeana was introduced to Winter Haven, FL by Cypress Gardens. The trees were planted all along the C.G.Boulevard. It was beautiful when they bloomed. They lasted about 10 years until we had a hard freeze. Zone 9a is NOT SUITABLE for them. They are easily propagated by air layers.
Remember, Bauhinia purpurea is considered an invasive plant in south Florida.

Positive palmbob On Apr 29, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Great looking tree, common all over southern California- easily the most commonly grown species in the US and probably the world. Seed is sterile because it is a hybrid- not a true species.

Neutral KillerChihuahua On Jan 31, 2004, KillerChihuahua from Merritt Island, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Bauhinia blakeana, the Hong Kong Orchid, can NOT be started from seed; the seed is sterile.

However, the Purple Orchid, Bauhinia purpurea can be propagated from seed. If you have viable seeds, they most likely came from B. purpurea.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mesa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Altadena, California
Carlsbad, California
Hemet, California (2 reports)
Huntington Beach, California
Indio, California
Laguna Niguel, California
Lemon Grove, California
Long Beach, California
Mission Viejo, California
Palm Springs, California
San Diego, California
San Dimas, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Van Nuys, California
Woodland Hills, California
Alva, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Bradley, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Maitland, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida (3 reports)
Miami, Florida
Mulberry, Florida
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sanford, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
Venice, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Kapaa, Hawaii
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Wahiawa, Hawaii
Houma, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Columbus, Ohio
Brownsville, Texas (2 reports)
Corpus Christi, Texas
Houston, Texas
Los Fresnos, Texas
Mathis, Texas
Mission, Texas
Rosenberg, Texas
Spring, Texas

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