The Q&A Archives: Hong Kong Orchid Tree

Question: Our homeowners association is planning to remove a very large coral tree on the recommendation of an arborist, and I have been told that a Hong Kong Orchid (Bhuhinia blakeana) would be a good choice for the area. The location is a 100 sq ft traffic circle. It is surrounded by a hedge of manzanita and has a sprinkler system. My question is what other possbile choices of trees could meet the physical requirements described, as well as providing some color during part of the year, and having very little maintenance?

Answer: Bauhinia blakeana, the Hong Kong Orchid tree, is a spectacular specimen tree reaching 25' high and wide. They produce 5-6" wide flowers from late fall through early spring, making them an attraction for quite a long time. It would be my first choice for the area you describe. You might also consider one of the smaller magnolia trees such as Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue'. This is an evergreen tree growing 35' high and 20' wide with white flowers throughout the summer and into the fall, or 'Victoria' an evergreen 20' tall and 15' wide. A final suggestion is the deciduous Paulownia tomentosa, also called Empress Tree. Early in the spring, before the heart-shaped leaves appear, it produces clusters of fragrant, trumpet-shaped lilac blue flowers. It's a real show stopper! The growth habit is similar to Catalpa; broad crown, multi-branched and heavy trunked. Hope one of these trees appeals to you!

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