This genus includes about 200 small shrubs or saplings from China, India and southern Africa. Some species, such as B. grandiflora, can be grown outdoors in regions where it does not freeze, but usually bauhinie are grown as indoor plants. They have a semi-woody stem, with grey-brown bark, and decorative bilobed leaves, formed by two almost circular parts, attached for about two thirds of their length, similar to butterflies.
In spring and summer, they produce numerous flowers, of white, yellow, pink or red colour, which bloom on long semi-woody stems, usually in clusters formed by 5-6 flowers. In autumn, the flowers are replaced by long woody capsules full of seeds. B. galpinii, much cultivated in the tropical gardens, has orange-red flowers. B. tormentosa has yellow bell-shaped flowers. The framed Bauhinia is also called an orchid tree because of its characteristic flowers.
The Bauhinia corniculata plants need a sunny position, therefore in summer they should be kept on the terrace or in the garden, in a very bright place. They are afraid of winter frost, therefore at the beginning of autumn they should be taken indoors, keeping them in a warm place and where they can receive many hours of direct light.
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The specimens of orchid tree do not require much water, it is sufficient to water them every 15 days, letting the soil dry well between one watering and the other, checking that no water stagnation forms that is very harmful to this type of plant. During the winter period, watering should be reduced and carried out only when the soil is completely dry.
In the period from March to October, it is advisable to add flowering plant fertilizer to the water of the watering, at least every 15-2 days.
The Bauhinia franiculata does not have particular needs, provided the soil is well drained and very fertile, even if it develops without any problems in any balanced compound, we suggest adding some coarse material to the mould to improve the drainage.
In the wild these plants can add remarkable dimensions, even of some metres, it is therefore advisable to change the pot often, to allow a sufficient development to the roots of the plant; for abundant blooms and to keep the plant compact we suggest to prune it vigorously in autumn or at the end of winter.
The bauhinie produce numerous fertile seeds, which germinate without problems; sow the orchid aberos in spring keeping the seedbeds in a temperate and humid place, until the seedlings have produced at least two pairs of leaves, then place in individual containers. Having the good fortune to live in places with mild winters you can sow the bauhinie directly at home, on the pots of the terrace or even in the garden.
Orchid tree – Bauhinia framed: Parasites and diseases
This very resistant plant is hardly attacked by pests or diseases; too much watering and water stagnation in the pot can promote the onset of root rot. For this reason it is essential to check that the soil allows proper drainage.