As the weather warms up the Treasure Coast, many of the area’s flowering trees come to life bringing new, vibrant colors to our gardens. Three special species that come out of hibernation are the royal poinciana, crape myrtle, and frangipani.
The royal poinciana, also known as the flame tree, is a classic tropical tree. Poincianas, which are originally found in Madagascar, have been in Florida for a century and were central to many of the Florida Highwaymen paintings of our area. In the summer, these trees burst into a bright orange-red color. Planted in full sun, they grow quickly in height and breadth and can eventually reach 40 feet in size. Proper pruning can create an understory of shade and make them less susceptible to storm damage. Newly planted poincianas can take a few seasons to start blooming, but once they start they will bring tropical colors to your summer.
The crape myrtle, which is known as the lilac of the south, adorns many of the boulevards in our area. It is originally from Asia and is a smaller tree – no more than 15 to 25 feet when mature. It, too, is a summer bloomer, with white, red, purple, or pink flowers from July to September. The tree has a single or multi-trunk variety. The crape myrtle loves sun and should be pruned for desired shape, however, do not over prune, as you will reduce flower growth and will have uneven flower clusters in future years. A crape myrtle stands alone well as a showpiece in the garden.
The frangipani (plumeria) is a native of Central America and the Caribbean. This tree is known for its tropical leaves and flowers. In the Aztec empire, owning one signified elite status. Most varieties, except bridal wreath, lose all their leaves in the winter leaving behind a dramatic skeleton of trunk and branches. Then from June to November, broad leaves and yellow, pink, white, or red flowers emerge. These smaller trees can grow to 20 feet and do well in full sun. They can be mostly neglected, but once they flower, they will get your attention.
Spring is a great time to plant flowering trees so you can enjoy their fragrances and tropical colors all summer long.