The bright red tops of the Royal Poinciana tree (Delonix Regia) are an amazing site when this colorful tree is in full bloom.
Delonix Regia is pronounced [dee-LON-iks REE-jee-uh], but the plant also has easy to pronounce common names:
- Royal Poinciana
- Flamboyant tree
- Flame of the forest
- Flame tree
The plant is native to Madagascar, but it’s been introduced throughout the tropical regions of the world.
It belongs to the Fabaceae family, or the bean family, and is technically a legume.
The widely cultivated plant can get quite big, even when grown in tubs. With proper care and careful pruning, it’s an attractive addition to any landscape.
NOTE: For a smaller option consider the Dwarf Poinciana Tree Caesalpinia pulcherrima.
Royal Poinciana Tree Care
Size and Growth
When grown in suitable climates, the Royal Poinciana can reach over 20′ feet tall. It produces a large canopy and a nice shade tree.
If grown in a container or tub, it rarely exceeds 12′ feet tall. To help the tree achieve a nice, round umbrella-like canopy, regular pruning is needed.
The compound leaves of the plant are long, measuring up to 20″ inches and featuring 20 to 40 pairs of leaflets.
Poinciana Trees Flowering and Fragrance
Delonix regia blooms in the spring or summer. The red flowers show up on the bare branches when the weather starts to warm up.
The flowers are bright red, giving the plant its various common names.
The colorful flowers feature five petals, measuring up to three inches, and a cluster of yellow-orange stamens. There is no noticeable fragrance.
NOTE: It can take up to 10 years for a young flame tree to produce its first bloom.
When cultivated in a tub or container, it may take even longer for the plant to bloom. To ensure that the tree produces flowers sooner, purchase as a small tree.
Light and Temperature
The flame tree needs a tropical climate to thrive outdoors. It’s recommended for USDA hardiness zones 10 – 11.
In the United States, it’s grown outdoors in parts of Florida, Texas, and Hawaii.
In cooler regions, the plant should be grown in a greenhouse, conservatory, or enclosed porch where it can be kept at a suitable temperature.
The plant cannot survive temperatures below 40 degrees during the winter.
The plant needs lots of sunlight, especially during the summer.
Give it a spot outdoors with full sun or set it in a southern-facing window for indoor growth.
Watering and Feeding
Give the plant lots of water during the summer, but ensure that the soil dries out between watering. Once mature and established Royal Poinciana is drought tolerant.
Feed regularly with a balanced fertilizer throughout the warmer months and not at all during the winter.
Gradually reduce watering and feeding throughout the year.
The plant should get more frequent watering and fertilizer in the summer and less during the fall. Stop completely in the winter.
Resume feeding and watering as spring growth starts.
Soil and Transplanting
Grow the plant in regular potting soil combined with coarse sand. For good drainage, combine 25% sand with 75% soil mix.
Use large clay pots with drainage at the base. Younger plants may need transplanting each year, as they start to outgrow their homes.
Eventually, mature plants should only need transplanting every two or three years, but freshening the topsoil is recommended each year.
Grooming and Maintenance
Grooming and pruning of limbs is needed to manage plant height and to ensure a strong tree structure.
When the plant reaches about five feet and has finished blooming for the season, cut off the top of the plant.
Trimming off the top should make it easier to manage the height while encouraging a wider canopy.
Prune runaway branches as needed to shape the growth of the plant.
How to Propagate Royal Poinciana
Propagate the plant with seeds. The long seed pods open in the fall, allowing access to the seeds, but the pods remain as they slowly wilt.
Sow the seeds in late winter or early spring using a light propagating soil.
Keep the seedlings warm and don’t transplant to larger containers until they are well established.
Flamboyant Tree Pests or Diseases
Spider mites and scale insects can be problems for the flame tree.
Spider mites are more likely to pose a threat if the plant doesn’t remain in an environment with high humidity.
As soon as the mites are detected, increase the humidity or set the plant outdoors. Severe attacks may require the plant to be discarded.
Regularly check the plant for scale insects. The insects appear under the leaves and can be removed with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol.
After wiping the insects away, mist the plant.
Insecticide may help treat infestations of either pest but doesn’t always work for severe attacks.
Suggested Delonix Regia Uses
To give the plant the warmth and sunshine that it needs, place it outdoors in the summer.
Keep it indoors in a conservatory or greenhouse for the winter.
In warmer, humid regions, grow the plant outdoors as a large tree in the yard.