Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - March 03, 2006

From: Fellsmere, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Care for non-native, invasive Bauhinia variegata
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Fellsmere just south of Melbourne and we have about 5 orchid trees on our property; one is fairly tall, about 20 ft, and the others are about 6 ft tall. My smaller ones have several air plants and moss on the branches and the taller one looks to be growing mostly on one side and doesn't have very good color in it's leaves. I don't know when or how much I can cut back the small guys and my larger one looks like it needs some sort of fertilizer. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

First, I am not sure whether you have Anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia lunarioides), native to Texas and Louisiana, or one of the other species of Bauhinia, such as Purple orchid-tree (Bauhinia purpurea) or (Bauhinia variegata), native to Asia. Whichever tree you have, it can take pruning, even hard pruning. Concerning the tree with with poor foliage color, the article on B. purpurea says that it has a "tendency to show nutritional deficiencies, especially potassium" and another article on Bauhinia spp. in general, suggests that the pH of the soil should be below 7.5 for members of the genus to thrive. You might consider having your soil pH and nutrient levels tested through your county Florida Cooperative Extension service office. You might also consider contacting an arborist.

Please note that Bauhinia variegata is listed as a Category 1 invasive species on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's 2005 list of Invasive Species.
 

More Non-Natives Questions

Identification of a tree in Florida with bell-shaped red flowers
November 23, 2012 - A friend in Florida has asked about identification of a tree with a flower none of us have ever seen. It starts with a green pod, then flowers into, what looks to me like a Chinese lantern, or bell. I...
view the full question and answer

Various holly hybrids or selections for Pflugerville TX
March 24, 2011 - I love Savannah Hollies. I used them all the time in the Dallas area. Now that I have moved to Austin, I am wondering if I can plant them in this area. I have a soil pH of 7 and drainage is moderate. ...
view the full question and answer

Deadheading cannas and geraniums
August 17, 2007 - I'm new to gardening. Your help would be appreciated. 1) I think I read that canna flowers can be deadheaded so they will continue to bloom throughout the summer. What part is actually taken off? ...
view the full question and answer

Need some help with my Mexican Bush Sage in Rockport, TX.
July 07, 2011 - My Mexican bush sage looks leggy,ratty and sparse. It's planted in full sun and was cut back to the ground in early spring. My soil is sand and I've watered it sparingly as we've had no rain. I'm...
view the full question and answer

Dog-proof grass from The Woodlands TX
April 26, 2013 - I am looking for a hardy grass that can tolerate female dogs urine. Zoysia was suggested but I am concerned about it being invasive. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.