Orchid tree (Bauhinia variegata)

Bauhinia variegata produces lovely flowers

Image - Wikimedia / Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

If you have a rather small garden and you are looking for a tree that, in addition to being beautiful, is not going to give you problems, bauhinia variegata it is one of the most recommended species. Not only does it not grow much, but it also provides a nice shade and produces very, very beautiful flowers; in fact, they are so pretty that it is often called an orchid tree.

You don't have to worry about maintenance, or not too much. With some basic care you will be able to enjoy it throughout the year, perhaps a little less in winter because it runs out of leaves, but you can rest easy because in spring it will bloom. Dare to know her 🙂.

Origin and characteristics of bauhinia variegata

View of a young Bauhinia variegata

Image - Wikimedia / Daniel Capilla

This is a magnificent deciduous tree native to South and Southeast Asia known as cow's claw, cow's foot, orchid tree or orchid tree that can reach a maximum height of 12 meters, with a more or less straight or slightly crooked trunk. Its crown is somewhat open, about 4 meters long in adult specimens, and is made up of rounded leaves 10 to 20cm long and wide.

Blooms in spring. The flowers are large, 8 to 12cm in diameter, perfumed and made up of five bright pink and / or white petals. After pollination, the fruit begins to ripen, which is a 15 to 30cm legume with hard brown seeds inside.

What are their cares?

Having a tree like this is always a reason for joy. The care it needs is not complicated, and it is also a very beautiful plant. If you don't believe me, follow our growing tips and you can see for yourself 🙂:


La bauhinia variegata is a tree that it has to be outside, in full sun. It can be in semi-shade, but only if it gives it a minimum of 3-4 hours of direct sunlight.

If you are going to plant it in the garden, place it at a distance of at least five meters from walls, tall plants, etc. Its roots are not invasive, but it does need some space to be able to develop properly.


The flowers of the orchid tree are beautiful

Image - Wikimedia / Dr. Raju kasambe

  • Flower pot: uses universal substrate (for sale here!) mixed with a little pearlite (for sale here!).
  • the garden: the land must be fertile, with good drainage.


Irrigation It must be frequent during the hottest and driest time of the year, but moderate during the rest of the seasons.. In general, it is advisable to water 3 or 4 times a week in summer, and every 4-5 days the rest.

In any case, when in doubt it is always better to check the humidity of the soil or substrate, as it does not support excess watering. To do this, you can insert a thin wooden stick: if it comes out practically clean when you extract it, you can water.


During spring and summer it is very interesting to pay to the bauhinia variegata every 15 to 30 days, for example with mulch or herbivorous animal manure. In this way, you will make it grow healthy.

Just keep in mind that if you are going to grow it in a pot, it is preferable to fertilize with liquid fertilizers, since otherwise the drainage capacity of the substrate could be jeopardized.


View of the cow's leg tree

Image - Wikimedia / Alejandro Bayer Tamayo from Armenia, Colombia

It is a tree that multiplies by seeds in spring, or in autumn if the weather is mild. These can be sown directly in pots with substrate, but to get them to germinate in greater numbers it is advisable to first submit them to the pregerminative treatment known as heat shock, which consists of introducing them -with the help of a strainer- in a glass of boiling water for one second and 24 hours in another glass of water but at room temperature.

After that time, they are transferred to seedling trays or pots, and they are placed outside, in full sun, after having added a little sulfur on the surface in order to prevent fungi.

Do not put many seeds in the same seedbed; Moreover, it is best to put one or two in each pot or socket, since it is difficult for them to overcome the transplant.


Don't need it, with the exception of cutting off dry, diseased, weak or broken branches at the end of winter.

Of course, if you have it in a pot, you must trim its branches in order to control its growth a bit. Do this in early spring with pruning shears or a previously disinfected hand saw.

Planting or transplanting time

En spring, when the risk of frost has passed.

If you have it in a pot, transplant it to a larger one when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, or when more than 2 years have passed after the last transplant.


The orchid tree is resistant to -7ºC.

What uses is given to bauhinia variegata?

It has several:

  • Ornamental: it is a magnificent garden tree. Whether it is kept as an isolated specimen or in groups, its precious scented flowers will make your springs even more beautiful. In addition, it provides a very interesting shade.
  • Culinary: both the leaves and the flower buds are consumed as a vegetable. And oils are obtained from its seeds.
  • Wood: with the wood of its trunk, tools are made.

Where to buy?

It is a plant that is usually found in nurseries and garden stores, but you can also buy seeds from here:

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