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Two tropical beauties

June 9, 2017
By H.I JEAN SHIELDS ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Hot sun and copious rains may not be the best lifestyle for people, but Mother Nature knows that beautiful tropical flowering trees love it.

Spring brings us all of the above. We just have to slow down and admire the beauty.

We may become enthused to plant tropical trees or just admire them along the roads and yards and fields. I am particularly enjoying the flamboyant royal poinciana. And the quiet beauty of the hardy crape myrtle trees.

Delonix regia, the royal poinciana, is a deciduous member of the bean family. The only thing on this tree resembling a bean is the foot-long seed pods. Yes, you can open pods and plant the seeds. I will speak on that later on.

Driving anywhere near a red poinciana tree from now until July, you will be amazed not only by the beautiful red flower clusters, but the graceful drooping form of a huge mature tree.

Their mounding spread can be as much as 30 feet wide. They will grow to be 30 or 40 feet tall during their short 30 to 40-year life. The older they get the more flamboyant the flowers. There are several red and an orange.

A new tree starts about 3 feet tall, and is not terribly expensive. This tree is not a pot tree, it must be out in some well-draining sandy loam type of soil and is salt safe. It does like a nice compost soil so that the soil is not too acidic or alkaline. It is drought tolerant and will drop its leaves before flowering. The poinciana trees you see will not be all alike, exactly. A tree many have a lot of lacy, green leaves on its branches along with the large clump of spiked flowers, or a few.

Do not plant near walls or streets or sidewalks. The roots are as big and somewhat stronger than the whole tree. Proper pruning while young will insure the tree will be able to withstand a lot of wind.

To plant seeds, open the pod and nick the seeds and soak them in warm water for 24 hours. Then plant them in soil and set aside for several months, in light shade. A semi-hardwood cutting is slower but the tree will be true to form.

The crape myrtle trees, Lagerstroemia ssp, in the Cape do well along Veterans Parkway in several colors, just beginning to show their blooms. A good yard tree, they come in several sizes and colors.

Please be careful about trimming these trees. They do not need to be hacked back. Read come care instructions.

There are about 20 queen crape myrtle trees on the west side of Chiquita Boulevard, going south to Gulf Harbour. They are just starting to bloom out - an amazing sight when they all bloom.

Do not forget this rain means mosquitoes will be zooming around. Take care of yourself and empty all water cans.

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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