The orchid tree is an insider tip for lovers of exotic plants. Its pink to white flowers are reminiscent of orchid flowers, which is why the Bauhinia variegata got its name. Depending on the chosen cut, you can raise the orchid tree to a high trunk or encourage a bushy growth.
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Site and soil conditions
Bauhinia variegata is an extremely warm and sun-loving plant. With only a few hours of sunshine a day, the orchid tree can only cope to a limited extent; you should also avoid locations in the shade during cultivation. Drafts affect the ornamental plant immensely, so give the plant a sheltered place. The substrate should be rich in humus and well drained. Enrich heavy soils with pebbles to avoid waterlogging and promote the growth of the roots.
Fertilizing and watering
As a tropical plant, the orchid tree has to overwinter in a frost-free, warm room. During this time the plant needs a moderate supply of lime-free water, but no nutrients should be added in the winter months. In the case of improper care, you promote the formation of horny shoots and thereby only weaken the growth unnecessarily.
The substrate of Bauhinia variegata must not dry out in summer, but avoid the formation of waterlogging. Instead of humus, you can also use liquid fertilizer or a special container plant fertilizer for the orchid tree. This is administered about every three weeks directly over the irrigation water to ensure even distribution.
The lush flowering ornamental plant can be propagated in two ways without any problems: Via vegetative and generative propagation.
During the main growing season, you can pull cuttings from the orchid tree at any time. Head cuttings are just as suitable for this as perennial, already lignified shoots. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut off parts about 10 inches long from the plant. All leaves are removed from the lower end and the cutting is immediately placed in a container with a lean substrate. Avoid soil that is rich in humus and nutrients, as this is more of a hindrance for the cuttings to take root. Warm temperatures and a bright location promote the formation of roots.
Since failures can occur again and again, you should allow several cuttings to root at the same time. As soon as new shoots and leaves appear, you can cultivate the cuttings as usual. However, slowly get the young plants used to long-term direct sunlight. This will prevent the leaves from suffering burns that cannot be regenerated.
The best time to take this step is between January and April. However, before you start seeding propagation, have the following materials ready:
- Potting soil or coconut fiber
- Flat planter
- Water atomizer
- Transparent, perforated plastic film
Before sowing, roughen the seed or pour hot water over it. Then leave the seeds in the water for 24 hours, this increases the germination capacity. Nutrient-poor potting soil has proven itself as a substrate. Press the seed about 1.5 centimeters into the soil and keep the substrate evenly moist. As a tropical plant, the orchid tree needs warm temperatures for germination, ideally these should be between 20 ° -28 ° C. In order to minimize the germination time, you should cover the planter with the foil. Due to the lack of air circulation, the substrate often tends to form mold under these conditions. Therefore take off the foil for about two hours every day. It can take a total of 21 days for the first shoot tips to appear. As soon as the seedlings have reached a size of about 10-15 centimeters, you should transfer them to individual vessels. In the event of excessively fast growth, you should cut back the plant by a few centimeters. This strengthens the shoots and promotes healthy, bushy growth.
Orchid trees are relatively easy to care for when it comes to “pruning”, an annual pruning is not absolutely necessary. However, prune young plants back a few inches to encourage bushy, vigorous growth. You can also easily regulate the height of the plant or “train” it to become a high trunk. To do this, you have to consistently remove all disturbing, lower side shoots. Make sure that the strong main shoots are preserved and form the crown shape. Incorrectly executed cuts can also lead to the increased formation of fast-growing, cross-growing branches in orchid trees. These should be cut close to the trunk.
The pruning is done immediately after flowering, use sharp secateurs or a knife for this work. Worrying or diseased shoots can be eliminated all year round, this promotes the resistance and growth of the plant.
In their original home, orchid trees reach a height of over 10 meters. However, the ornamental plants are sensitive to domestic temperatures and can only be cultivated in our gardens as potted plants. The plant with the camel-foot-like flowers can spend the summer on the balcony or in a sheltered location in your own garden. Planting out directly in the field is not recommended, as it will make it difficult for you to react to changes in the weather.
Choose a planter that is about 2/3 larger than the root ball of the Bauhinia variegata. As a basis, a drainage layer is laid on the bottom of the bucket, which should consist of lava chippings or potsherds. This will prevent waterlogging from building up and causing root rot. As a substrate, humus-rich garden soil has proven itself, plant the orchid tree up to the root neck in the container and press the soil firmly into place. Finally, you need to water the plant firmly to make it easier for it to take root.
Gradually get young plants used to direct sunlight. The same also applies if the exotic plant is relocated from its winter quarters to the open air.
Orchid trees dominate their planting location with increasing height. Choose small, bushy plants for the vicinity of the container plant. Or you can combine the plant with vigorous plants such as oleanders and angel’s trumpets.
When the roots of the ornamental plant fill the planter completely, you should repot the orchid tree. Under ideal conditions, the plant is considered to be extremely fast-growing, so that this step is often required after about two years. The new vessel should be a few centimeters larger than the one previously used. When repotting, you can not only prune the plant in height, but at the same time cut back roots that are caring and strongly overgrown. It is transplanted in the summer, right after the orchid tree is in bloom. As with the planting, the new vessel should also have a drainage layer.
The ornamental plant, which comes from Southeast Asia, belongs to the type of plant that is sensitive to temperatures below 10 ° C. When cultivating on the terrace or in the garden, you should place the orchid tree in a frost-proof room as early as late summer. Older specimens of Bauhinia variegata can also cope with lower temperatures for a short time. Still, you should minimize the risk of frostbite damage to the plant. Winter is at a temperature between 12 ° C and 18 ° C. Often the orchid trees lose their leaves in their winter quarters, but form new ones in the coming spring. Avoid close proximity to heat sources and provide the plant with a moderate amount of lime-free water. The orchid trees often do not particularly tolerate spraying the leaves directly,
Successfully combating pests and care errors
The Southeast Asian ornamental plant is considered to be extremely robust. A possible stunted growth and discoloration of the leaves are often more due to a care mistake than to fungal pathogens.
Black, brown or yellow spots on the leaves of the orchid tree are often a sign of a shortage or oversupply. From March to August you should provide the plant with fertilizer – according to the instructions on the package. The soil must not dry out during this time. It is poured again as soon as the top substrate layer has dried noticeably.
In winter the plant rests and reduces its growth to a minimum. If the supply of nutrients is not stopped during this time, this quickly leads to over-fertilization and uncontrolled growth.
However, weak and pale leaves can also appear due to age. With the right, cool overwintering, the plant forms new leaves from around February and the old leaves begin to wither. If there is a visible change in the plant, always check the location and the substrate first.
These insects, which are only a few millimeters in size, hardly stop at a plant. As the lice population increases, so do the visible symptoms of an infestation. In addition to the drying up of young shoot tips and silvery discoloration of the leaves, the parts of the plant often also have a sticky surface. This coating, caused by the honeydew excreted by the aphids, attracts ants. Before using natural predators of lice, such as ladybirds and lacewing larvae, you must first control the ants.
Aphids can be effectively removed with simple home remedies. First spray heavily affected parts of the plant with a sharp jet of water. After that, you should spray the orchid tree with a broth made from nettles or field horsetail. Repeat this measure daily in order to reliably catch all animals. If possible, the infected plant must be separated from other plants. In this way, you curb the spread of the pests and can combat the infestation in a more targeted manner.
If the orchid tree is exposed to waterlogging too often, the roots of the plant often begin to rot. A musty smell penetrates the substrate and the plant shows deficits in its overall appearance. There are no effective remedies against root rot. However, with the right pouring technique and drainage, you can prevent this disease. In some cases, affected plants were able to regenerate by moving them to dry substrate. However, do not cut away any rotting roots.
Bauhinia variegata is an eye-catcher for every garden and can also be cultivated in your own winter garden all year round. In order to promote the bloom and the health of the Asian plant, however, a lot of care and patience is required. The fast-growing orchid tree does not develop its delicately fragrant flowers until the 4th year.