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Bauhinia macranthera - Chihuahuan Orchid Tree

Bauhinia macranthera - the Pink Orchid Tree - is rarely seen for sale.. but not from a lack of beauty!  This Mexican species flowers from spring through autumn, with gorgeous, orchid-shaped blossoms in bright shades of pink.  Its combination of attractive foliage and ornamental blooms makes this is a choice collector's plant.  And unlike a lot of my plants, it happily tolerates both heat and freezing temperatures to at least 20 degrees F (-7 C).  I don't know anyone currently offering it online.

Bauhinia macranthera - Chihuahuan Orchid Tree

Bauhinia macranthera forms a small, graceful-looking tree about 10 to 15 feet tall.  It stays well-shaped without much pruning, although you may prune it to any size you wish.  Its 2-lobed leaves are bright green, and stay nearly evergreen in temperatures above freezing.  The biggest show of blooms is in late spring and summer, but it has flowers on it into October or November here in San Francisco.  The blooms are 2 to 3 inches long, and appear in clusters of 4 to 6 all over the plant.  Their 5 long petals go through various shades of pink or mauve as they mature, making a great magnet for butterflies.

Bauhinia macranthera - Pink Orchid Tree

This Bauhinia is pretty easy to grow.  It does well both in shade and in full sun.  It blooms the strongest when given at least 2-3 hours of sun.  It likes a typical, well-draining soil, and may be grown in a pot.  It doesn't have high water needs, but try to keep the soil from drying out to keep the plant looking good.  There are reports of adult plants handling temperatures of around 15 degrees F (-9 C), but younger plants probably should receive protection from frost.  The branches are fairly fragile, so protect them from strong winds.

 

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Turquoise Puya

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