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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Ylang-Ylang Tree

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

First impression: Cascading, pendulous, twisted, yellowish green flowers that remind me of curled ribbon. These unique flowers emerge from the leaf axils, which are large oblong and dark green. Her trunk has a shallow ridged texture of light gray bark. The tree stands very straight up and down with a canopy that is very close and has little spread. Expensive, exotic perfumed scents languish in the breeze. We have one very huggable Ylang-Ylang Tree blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Ylang-Ylang is pronounced ee-lang ee-lang, which hails from Southeast Asia to Australia. Considered a medium-sized tree, whose mature height can be 30-40 feet, it is perfect for our tropical temperatures of seasonally moist and hot. Plant in partial shade to full sun in a well-drained area layered with lots of mulch. Volcanic mulching is never recommended. Picture if you will, mulch that is piled higher around the trunk of the tree sloping downward to resemble a volcano. Bad form! Tree trunks need a wee bit of space between mulch and its bark to stay healthy by not inviting mold, fungus, critters, etc. Mulch correctly applied should cover the roots (2-3inches deep) for cooling, amending soil, and water retention. If you’re looking for fragrance, you found it! Our star is a number one, top of the heap for perfume-makers. Coco Chanel searched for this iconic scent to characterize the more independent women of her century. The year was 1923 and the Paris perfume was and is Chanel No.5. Our Ylang Ylang is pruned for the intent purpose of falling into the branches and taking in whiffs. Categorized as evergreen and ever blooming, our tree has short periods of non-blossoms. We are truly blessed to have our tree that is about 40 + years old. She has been through many hurricanes and storms, but has weathered them sporting multiple trimmed major branches. The beauty of this tree is not only in its fragrance, but also in its perseverance to survive.

Pros: Unique ribbon like bloom – Does well in moist soil – Likes full sun- Easy to maintain/pruneSought after very unique fragrance is spellbinding Always a joy to hug – Is great for night garden areas when scents are at their peak minimal or no pest.

Cons: Minimal clean up when shedding leaves – Non Native status Looses limbs in strong winds – slow grower Small canopy – Fragrance is strong and intense Neighbors will be sniffing your flowers.

Conclusion: Ylang Ylang is one of the most celebrated flowering trees of the world! Just perfect for our tropical oasis, it mesmerizes you to embrace its cascading flowers. Huggable, hum Coco was definitely on the right track. Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!