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June 17th, 2020


Dwarf Poinciana Tree: Small Wonder

by R.S. Walsh

One cannot miss noticing the Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) as it stands out and brightens the landscape with its showy reddish-orange and yellow flowers. It will often be seen in the landscape as an ornamental accent tree. It has multiple trunks with fern-like greyish-green leaves. Not to be confused with the enormous Royal Poinciana tree, it makes a great alternative where there is limited space or adding height and interest to a blank wall.

The Dwarf Poinciana tree is native to Mexico and is also the official flower of Barbados, also known as “Pride of Barbados”. It is a fast-growing tree and one can enjoy the brightly colored flowers yearly from March to October. It makes a great choice to include in a butterfly garden to attract butterflies. This tree has several common names which include peacock flower, red bird of paradise, and flower fence. The Dwarf Poinciana can be grown as a large shrub as well. Late fall after the flowers continue to bloom is the best time to prune and shape it. Otherwise, it will grow to 10 to 15 feet which is still significantly smaller the Royal Poinciana tree.

The Dwarf Poinciana requires very little maintenance, requiring fertilization only once a year. Like most flowering trees and plants this flowering tree thrives in full sunlight and well-drained soils. It is also moderately salt tolerant and drought tolerant once it gets established.

Overall, the Dwarf Poinciana is a unique, attractive, and ideal accent tree that will continue to impress those that are new to tropical landscapes and flowering tree enthusiasts as well. This tree is a worthy addition to the landscape especially when there is limited space.

This plant column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s garden center, 3889 Sanibel Captiva Rd., Sanibel, Florida.

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