AZ Arboretums

Bauhinia blakeana

Desert zinnia

Common: Hong Kong orchid tree
Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae)
Origin: Native to southern China
Sunset Zone: 13, 19, 21, 23
Light: Plant in full sun
Soil: Well drained, deep garden soil
Water: Water every week or two throughout the year.

An evergreen well-branched, rounded tree growing to 25 feet tall and wide. The leaves are large, bright-green, two-lobed and rounded growing to 6 inches long and wide. Hardy; new growths and leaves may be damaged by severe freezes, but new shoots regrow from mature stems.

Train to a single trunk with major branching beginning at 5 to 6 feet. Thin out crisscrossing limbs to prevent damage caused by rubbing branches.

Plant a single tree or a cluster to form an accent in home and commercial landscapes. The trees open large orchidlike blooms of a reddish purple color November through March. The large, deep-lobed leaves attract attention year-round. Orchid trees often are planted near a patio, as a backdrop for gardens or along walkways.

Hong Kong orchid trees flower in the winter starting before Thanksgiving and continuing until April. Large purple-red flowers cover the entire umbrella-shaped crown for the duration.

Though the Hong Kong Orchid tree is not an orchid, the spectacular, showy flowers somewhat resemble orchids. This species of orchid tree was discovered in Hong Kong by a French priest and named for Sir Henry Blake, governor of Hong Kong in 1908.