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Hong Kong Orchid Bauhinia x blakeana

Previously known as:

  • Perlebia x blakeana
Phonetic Spelling
boh-HIN-ee-uh blah-kee-AY-nuh
Description

This broadleaf specimen is a hybrid multitrunked semi-evergreen flowering tree that has an umbrella-like form along with an irregular crown.  Its large, orchid-like flowers come in a range of colors, from reddish to pink.  They range in size from 5 to 6 inches.  The gray-green foliage is somewhat deciduous, although its deciduous nature will take place later than expected. The genus name honors 16th Century Swiss botanists and herbalists Johann and Gaspard Bauhin who were identical twins and, thus, reference the bi-lobed leaves unique to genus plants. The hybrid name honors Sir Henry Blake, plant enthusiast and governor of Hong Kong from 1898 to 1903, and his wife Lady Edith Blake.

It grows best in full sun in a variety of soil types, but in a relatively narrow zone (USDA zones 9 to 11).  Good drainage is important and it is best to protect  the plant from frost to prevent damage to the foliage. It thrives in heat but the leaves may turn brown along the edges in dry heat or drought. Established trees have good drought tolerance. It will not survive a cold, hard, extended frost. Foliage suffers damage when temperatures dip below freezing and the tree will often not survive temperatures below 26 degrees F. Site the plant in a location where it can be protected from cold winds.  

When young, prune the tree at regular intervals.  This will help to achieve a more uniform crown as the tree ages. the plant tends to grow as a multi-stemmed/trunked tree; however, it can be trained to be a single-trunked specimen.  If allowed to grow as a multi-trunk tree, the mature tree may be susceptible to breakage at the crotch.  

This sterile hybrid is not propagated from seed, there are no seed pods on the plant.  Propagation can only be accomplished by cuttings, layering, or grafting onto seedlings of one of the parent species.  All existing plants are descendants of hybrids cultivated at the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens.  The lack of seed pods makes this tree more desirable than others of its type that drop their pods and require clean-up. Surface roots are rarely a problem.

This plant may be confused with Bauhinia purpurea.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: 

Chinese rose beetle may damage the leaves.  As the tree ages, the limbs tend to droop, which may require pruning to allow clearance under the canopy.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#semi-evergreen#broadleaf evergreen#winter interest#flowering tree#cold intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#showy flowers#semi-evergreen#broadleaf evergreen#winter interest#flowering tree#cold intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Bauhinia
    Species:
    x blakeana
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Layering
    Leaf Cutting
    Root Cutting
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Colorful
    Dimensions:
    Height: 12 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 20 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Horizontal
    Multi-trunked
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Description:
    Flattened seed pods
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Large, 5 to 6 inch rose-purple-crimson showy flowers shaped like orchids that bloom November to April when little else in the garden is blooming.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Bi-lobed, light to medium green leaves have yellowish green veins. Leaves are deeply cleft at the apex and base, producing a twin leaf (butterfly wing) effect. Trees are partially deciduous (some leaf drop in fall around the time flowering begins, but some leaves persist throughout winter).
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Foundation Planting
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree