El Flamboyan, also known as the Flame Tree, is one of the most popular tropical trees. Its parasol glass and its incredibly beautiful flowers make it a highly desired plant by all, whether we have a garden or not.
In the tropics you can find it in streets, parks, avenues, ... in short, everywhere. Unfortunately, due to its sensitivity to cold, those of us who live in areas with cool climates must settle for seeing it only in photos, or maybe not? Regardless of where you live, after reading this special article you will know what care it needs, how to reproduce it, and much more.
Table of Contents
- 1 Characteristics of the flamboyant tree
- 2 Flamboyant Tree Uses
- 3 Flamboyan properties
- 4 How to reproduce the flamboyan
- 5 Can grafts be done?
- 6 Flamboyan care
- 7 Can you have a flamboyant in a pot?
- 8 How to get the flamboyan to withstand the winter
- 9 Pests and diseases of the flamboyan
Characteristics of the flamboyant tree
Before getting into the matter, do you want us to know what this magnificent tree is like? This way it will be easier for us to distinguish it ..., although, it is true, the difficult thing is, precisely, not to recognize it. But it does not hurt to know how it is so that the place we choose to plant it, be the most suitable. Let us begin:
The flamboyant, whose scientific name is Delonix direction, is a tree belonging to the Fabaceae family and the Caesalpinioideae subfamily. With a life expectancy of 60 years., is native to Madagascar, where it is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss.
Has a rapid growth rate -if the conditions are favorable, it can be done at a rate of 50cm / year- until it reaches 12m in height, with a 5-6m diameter parasol canopy. Its leaves are evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous depending on the climatic conditions and the crop:
- Expires: our tree will lose its leaves during autumn-winter in cold climates if the minimum temperature is below 5ºC, or in the dry season.
- Semi-perennial: the flamboyan will partially lose its leaves if the minimum temperature remains around 10ºC and the maximum does not rise more than 18ºC.
- Perennial: If the climate is warm, with temperatures between 10 and 30-35ºC, and the rainfall regime of the place is sufficient for the tree to survive, as it would be in humid tropical climates, the flamboyant will always have leaves. Of course, you have to know that you will lose the oldest ones throughout the year, as new ones come out.
The flowers, without a doubt, its main attraction, are large. They have four petals of up to 8cm in length, and a fifth petal called the standard, longer and stained with yellow and white. The color we could say is red, and indeed, the type species (Delonix direction) has red ones, but there is a variety, the Delonix regia var. Flavid, which has a spectacular yellow-orange color. They sprout from the tree in spring, When the specimen has reached 5-6 years of age and, if lucky and pollinated, the fruits will immediately begin to ripen, which are pods that, when mature, are woody, dark brown in color and up to 60cm long per 5cm wide. Inside we will find the seeds, which are elongated, more or less 1cm long, and very hard.
The trunk has a smooth bark, greyish brown even from a young age. The roots are very invasive, so you have to take special care to plant it near pipes, floors, or any construction. The ideal is to put it at a minimum distance of 10m from the mentioned places to avoid problems.
In addition, it must be said that it is a allelopathic plant. This is a word that may sound very strange to all of us when we read or hear it for the first time, but in reality it has an easy meaning to remember: allelopathic plants are those that do not allow practically any other grass to grow under their shade, like our protagonist, but also the Mediterranean fig trees (ficus carica) or eucalyptus, among others.
Flamboyant Tree Uses
The flamboyant is used mainly as ornamental plant in hot climates, as an isolated specimen to be able to contemplate it in all its splendor and enjoy its shade; you can also work as bonsai. However, in the Caribbean the ripe pods (with their seeds) are used like percussion instruments known as shak-shak, which in Spanish would be maracas. In Colombia, on the other hand, are used to feed livestock.
This is a tree that has interesting medicinal properties. In fact, used to relieve rheumatic pain, symptoms of respiratory problems and asthma. To benefit from them, you can macerate the bark to later apply it on the painful area, or cook the flowers and then drink them as if it were an infusion.
How to reproduce the flamboyan
Would you like to have a beautiful tree in your garden? Take note:
The flamboyant reproduces in three ways: by cutting, by seed and by air layering.
Reproduction by cutting
The cutting method is the fastest, since it will allow us to have an already grown specimen in a matter of a few months. To do this, you must wait until autumn, and follow these steps:
- Choose a thick semi-woody branch, at least 1cm in diameter, and 40-50cm long.
- Now make a bevel cut (that is, slightly tilted outward), and seal the wound of the tree - not the cutting - with healing paste.
- Moisten the base of the cutting with water, and infuse it with liquid rooting hormones, which you will find for sale in nurseries and garden stores.
- Then it's time to plant it in a pot with porous substrate, composed of 60% black peat and 40% perlite or coconut fiber. Perlite alone can also be used.
- Add a pinch of sulfur or copper -as if you were adding salt to the french fries- on the surface of the substrate. This will prevent fungi from damaging your cutting.
- Then give it a generous watering.
- Finally, it will be placed in an area protected from direct sun, and always keep the substrate slightly damp.
Reproduction by seeds
This is the most used method among hobbyists. For this, the seeds must of course be obtained, preferably in spring, which you will find for sale online nurseries or, if you live in a tropical climate, you can get them directly from the tree.
Once you have them, you have to proceed to scarify them. How? Very easy: with sandpaper or, if you don't have it at the time, you can do it against the wall, or even with a piece of wood. You have to do a little pressure, and give it several passes, but you have to be very careful not to go overboard. You will know that you are done when you see a dark brown color right at the point that has been most in contact with the stone or sandpaper.
Now are placed in a glass with clean water, at room temperature, overnight. The next morning, you should see that the peculiar covering that covers them will have started to come off, an unmistakable sign that they have begun to germinate. In case it has not been the case, sand them a little - very little, 2 or 3 more passes - again, and put them back in a glass overnight. If all goes well, the germination process can continue in the seedbed, which I recommend is a pot of at least 10-15cm in diameter and 6-8cm deep.
Black peat mixed with 30% perlite can be used as a substrate, but you can improve it by adding 10% organic compost, such as worm castings (for sale here!). In any case, after filling the pot almost completely, you have to place the seed in the center of it, and cover it with a little substrate, enough so that the wind cannot blow it away if it blows too hard. intensity.
And to finish, a pinch of copper or sulfur will be added and a generous watering will be given, so that the substrate is well soaked. We will put it in an area where it gets direct sun, we will always keep the pot slightly damp but not flooded and, in a matter of 5-7 days, the cotyledons will appear, which are the first leaves that all the plants take out. Later, the flamboyan's own leaves will do it.
Reproduction by air layering
In spring (April or May if you are in the northern hemisphere), with a cuttex you can sand a thick branch, about 2-3cm in diameter, a bit, and impregnating that area with rooting hormones before covering it with a dark colored plastic bag (preferably black).
Then, with a syringe filled with water, the substrate is "watered". This must be done every 3-4 days, so after a month, the roots will start to sprout. After another month, you will be able to cut down your new tree.
Can grafts be done?
It is not a very common technique in these plants, but if you want to have orange and red flowers on the same tree, thanks to the graft you will be able to achieve it. It is done as follows:
- A cut that goes from one side to the other of a branch whose thickness is at least 1cm. It must be deep.
- Then, the graft is inserted, which will be a semi-woody branch of another flamboyant.
- And then attached with duct tape for grafts.
If everything has gone well, in a matter of two months at most the first shoots will appear.
This is a very special tree that has its place reserved in many gardens, even if they are not in the right climate. Is very easy to care, as you are going to see:
Place to full sun. It does not tolerate shade, and can have problems in semi-shade.
Frequent in summer, during which we can water every 1 or 2 days if temperatures are above 30ºC. The rest of the year we will decrease the frequency, and we will water once a week, maximum two.
Highly recommended, especially if you live in a climate that is not too suitable for him. Fertilize it from spring to late summer with a fast-acting fertilizer, such as guano, following the manufacturer's recommendations. In autumn and winter I advise you to give it a monthly watering with half the indicated dose of Nitrofosca (the fertilizer of the blue balls).
It can be used black peat with perlite mixed at 20%, or also adding 10% worm castings.
During the early years of its youth, it can be grown in a pot, passing it to a major every year, in spring.
It is very sensitive to cold, especially when young. Although in the Canary Islands there are some other adult specimens that have endured up to -4ºC, its ideal temperature range is between 10 and 35ºC.
Can you have a flamboyant in a pot?
Of course yes, but for this it is important that it is planted in a larger pot as it grows., and that it is pruned regularly in late winter.
We will put universal culture substrate, or if we want coconut fiber (for sale here!), and we will water it several times a week so that it does not dry out. During the fall, when the temperatures begin to drop, we will put it indoors or in a greenhouse.
How to get the flamboyan to withstand the winter
This is a plant that I fell in love with many years ago. I love its size, its elegance, the color of its flowers ... everything. I know that I am not the only one, and surely there is someone - perhaps you? - who also lives in a climate that is not quite as good as it should be for flamboyant, but who nevertheless wants to try. So I'm going to tell you how did i make it survive to winter.
Where I live, annual temperatures are between -1ºC (it can drop to -2ºC if there is a polar wave) and 38ºC. Despite this, I have flamboyants. Why? Because every winter they are left outside but protected with plastic, and it is ensured that the substrate is always wet. Of course, it is watered only on the days when the weather is better, since otherwise the roots would find water that may be too cold, and there is no need to take risks.
Another important point is the »blue manure» that I mentioned earlier. If half a small spoonful of this compost is filled, it is poured into the pots and immediately watered, the root system will be kept at a temperature thanks to which it will be able to continue working, that is, absorbing water so that the plant can stay alive.
Pests and diseases of the flamboyan
The flamboyant is a tree that, fortunately, is not usually affected by pests and diseases. Still, yes that from time to time you can see him cottony mealybugs y aphids that are eliminated with insecticides containing Abamectin and / or Pyrethrin; and if it is watered excessively, the fungus Phytophthora can harm you, which can be treated with any broad spectrum fungicide.
And so far our special on one of the most spectacular trees: the flamboyant. What do you think? By the way, did you know that there is a yellow flamboyant? Find out: