In The Garden: Royal poinciana is the queen of summer
The royal poinciana (Delonix regia) lives up to its name, which means regal, royal or magnificent – all perfect descriptive terms for it.
We know it is summer when we see the tree burst into bloom. It is decorated in summer with large clusters of rich orange-red flowers on its umbrella-shaped crown of fine-textured leaves. Driving into the older Fort Myers neighborhoods, you will suddenly notice many of the majestic trees in full bloom. Any other time of year you would probably drive right past them without noticing.
The mature trees are an architectural wonder with their pale grey, far reaching branches, which create an umbrella shape that can shade a large area, while their tiny leaf structure gives them a lacy, rather bare appearance. They are also deciduous in the winter months which are thankfully short, probably to gather its strength for the flower show it puts on in the warm summer months.
The royal poinciana has been immortalized by many Florida artists and was a favorite subject of the Florida Highwaymen. It was a group of painters who painted many of the iconic scenes we still associate with the Old Florida style, when life was simpler and the natural beauty of the landscape was celebrated.
Poincianas are fast growing and can reach heights of 40 feet or more. They will usually grow wider than they are tall when given the room, creating the shape it is known for. They look best planted as a specimen tree by themselves in a large expanse of lawn to accommodate both its size and root system. Make sure you are at least 20 feet or so from a house and about that distance from any driveways or walkways so the roots do not become a problem.
Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to assure the ideal space for both flowering and a full spreading canopy. Trim only low hanging branches on the tree if you desire. Water on a regular basis and fertilize three times per year with a quality fertilizer for the area. And most of all, enjoy this spectacular flowering tree in your own yard.
In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel. For more information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit “http://www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden”>www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden.