Tabebuia [ta-bee-BEW-ee-uh], is a genus of flowering plants mostly comprised of trees and large shrubs.
Most species are native to South and Central America or the West Indies. Tabebuias put on a colorful show in home landscapes when blooming in South Florida
Tabebuia trees tend to be tolerant of various soils but require warm temperatures.
Tabebuia trees also typically produce tubular flowers hanging in clusters.
Due to the shape and color of the flowers, people started calling these plants trumpet trees or the Tree of Old.
Tabebuia Tree Care
Size and Growth
There are over 100 varieties of trumpet trees. Some Tabebuia species were reclassified in 2007. Some remain in the Tabebuia genus and others have been moved to the Handroanthus genus.
Some species can reach 160′ feet in height.
Luckily, cultivated varieties typically rarely exceed 25′ feet when grown outdoors in ideal conditions.
Depending on the species, the tree may form multiple trunks or a single large leader stem. The woody branches are covered in narrow, green leaves. The trees lose their leaves in winter.
Popular Tabebuia varieties include:
- Yellow trumpet tree (Tabebuia argentea)
- Pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia heterophylla)
- Cuban Pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia pallida)
- Purple trumpet tree (Handroanthus impetiginosus formerly Tabebuia impetiginosa)
- Gold trumpet tree (Handroanthus chrysanthus formerly Tabebuia chrysotricha)
- Silver trumpet tree (Tabebuia caraiba)
Flowering and Fragrance
Most species of trumpet trees produce heavy spring bloom and produce tubular flowers with multiple stamens.
The shape of the flowers gives the plant its common name.
The trumpet-shaped flowers are often a golden color, which leads to another common name for the plant.
Some people call it the Tree of Old.
Light and Temperature
Most species of the Tabebuia tree require full to partial sun.
These plants also require warm weather. The trumpet tree is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
NOTE: Freezing conditions may kill the tree.
In cool climates, grow the plant in a large container or pot and bring indoors for the winter.
Watering and Feeding
Seedlings and young plants require frequent, deep watering, especially during the first few months of growth.
After the first year, water young trees about once every two weeks.
Established trees do not need watering unless the region experiences a dry spell.
Fertilizing tends to limit the blooms but it promotes healthier growth.
During the first few years, fertilize the plants every four weeks throughout the spring and summer.
Soil and Transplanting
Plant in well-drained soil, whether growing outdoors or in a container.
When growing from seed, start in a pot.
After leaves develop, transplant seedlings outdoors.
Container plants do not require transplanting until the root system starts to outgrow the container.
Transplant in the spring after active growth starts.
Prune the plant back during the dormant period to maintain its size or desired shape.
Removing dead or damaged stems and branches encourages fuller, bushier growth.
How to Propagate the Tabebuia Tree
Propagate using seeds or hardwood cuttings.
- Take cuttings from mature shoots at the start of spring.
- The cutting should be at least a foot tall and about as thick as a finger.
- Strip away the bark around the bottom of the cutting and dip it in rooting hormone powder.
- Plant the cutting in a 6″ inch pot using standard potting soil.
- Water deeply and keep the young plant moist as it takes root.
- It should take up to eight weeks for the plant to take root.
- It can then be transplanted outdoors or to a larger container.
To propagate with seeds, collect the seeds from the pods after they turn brown and start to crack open.
- Plant the seeds in pots filled with potting soil, pressing the seeds about a half-inch into the soil.
- Keep the soil moist, and seedlings should appear in four to six weeks.
- After leaves develop, transplant to a larger pot.
- When the young plant reaches about 18″ inches in height, transplant it outdoors.
Tabebuia Tree Pest or Disease Problems
Tabebuia trees are not the easiest plants to grow due to a variety of potential pest and disease problems.
The plant may suffer from tomato spotted wilt or tobacco mosaic virus.
Both issues lead to stunted growth and streaking.
These issues cannot be cured and require you to propagate healthy cuttings or get rid of the plant.
The best solution for avoiding these viruses is to keep it away from tomato plants and tobacco plants.
Other threats include pests such as:
- Spider mites
- Snails, slugs
Neem insecticide oil works best for removing mealybugs and aphids.
Use a special miticide for spider mites.
For larger pests such as slugs or snails, remove them by hand.
Adding predatory insects such as lady beetles also helps control pest infestations.
The next concern is the toxicity of the plant.
All parts of the trumpet tree are considered poisonous, including the roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers.
The plant contains various toxic alkaloids causing muscle weakness, dry mouth, dilated pupils, and hallucinations.
The biggest threat is the bright fruit-like seed pods and flowers.
The bright colors tend to attract children.
The color also indicates those parts of the plant contain the highest concentrations of the toxins.
Suggested Tabebuia Tree Uses
The large trumpet tree is a great addition to any landscape.
It helps to bring more color to dull areas, thanks to the bright flowers and fruit.
If keeping it in a container in a cool climate, place outdoors during the summer and set on an enclosed porch during the winter.