The Q&A Archives: Royal Poinciana

Question: Will the Royal Poiciana Tree grow in the Ocala Florida Area? I have dry loose sandy soil.

Answer: Royal poinciana is very fast growing, about 5 ft per year until maturity, and tolerant of a wide range of well drained soils from acidic to alkaline and from loamy to gravelly. It grows best in full sun and is drought tolerant, but does best with regular water in the growing season and very little water in its dormant season.

Hardy in USDA Zones 10 - 12, Royal poinciana should not be exposed to temperatures below about 45?F (7.2?C).

Royal poinciana is a flamboyant tree in flower - some say the world's most colorful tree. For several weeks in spring and summer it is covered with exuberant clusters of flame-red flowers, 4-5 in across. Even up close the individual flowers are striking: they have four spoon shaped spreading scarlet or orange-red petals about 3 in long, and one upright slightly larger petal (the standard) which is marked with yellow and white. Royal poinciana gets 30-40 ft tall, but its elegant wide-spreading umbrella-like canopy can be wider than its height. Royal poinciana is deciduous in climates that have a marked dry season, but in Florida and other areas where the winter is not that much dryer than the summer, it is a semi-evergreen tree. Even the leaves are elegant: they are lacy and fernlike, twice-pinnate, and 12-20 in long with 20-40 pairs of primary leaflets, each divided into 10-20 pairs of secondary leaflets. The dark brown pods are flat and woody, up to 24 in long and 2 in wide.

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