Bauhinia acuminata (Dwarf White Orchid Tree)
Light: Full to Filtered Sun
Water: Average, Well-Drained
Soil: Mildy Acidic
Unlike most members of its genus, which are unscented, this little beauty has a wonderful fragrance – sweet, delicate, and subtly rosy. The flowers are large, 3-4″ wide, and shaped like pure white orchids. The generous blooming season begins in spring and will last for seven to ten months; the leaves will be deciduous or semi-deciduous, depending on the cold. It will grow as a large shrub or a small tree, and tends to be smaller in pots than in the ground. It is not drought tollerant and must be provided adequate water during dry periods.
Bauhinia galpinii (Red Orchid Bush)
Size: 10′ tall, 15-25′ wide
Light: Full Sun
Water: Average, Well-Drained, Fairly Drought Tollerant Once Established
Soil: Rich, Acidic
From Africa comes this large shrub that may behave more like a climber if left wild, but, if lightly pruned in early spring, may be shaped into a small tree or very large bush. It may also be encouraged to climb a trellis, pergola, or other garden structure. Either way, it will be covered from midsummer to late autumn with 3″ orchid-shaped flowers in shades from coral to brick-red that will attract butterflies. Winter frosts will send it into a deciduous dormancy, and it may not fully leaf out until midsummer, but it will be hardy down to 20-25°F.
Bauhinia purpurea (Purple Orchid Tree)
Life: Perennial, Deciduous
Light: Full Sun
Water: Average, Well-Drained, Drought Tollerant Once Established
Soil: Loamy, Slightly Acidic
A fast-growing tropical legume tree, these beauties produce an explosion of three to five inch orchid-shaped flowers in spring. They come in various shades of magenta, lavender, purplish-blue, and white, and will often begin producing flowers before their first new leaves. The leaves themselves are deep green and double-lobed with a very tropical look. After flowering, they will produce flattened, brown, woody pods up to a foot long. They are very easy to grow, being tollerant of drought and salt spray, and having few to no pests.