Flame Tree Bonsai (Delonix regia) Care Guide [Updated 2022]

The Flame Tree (Delonix regia) is also known as Royal Poinciana or Fire Tree. It is endemic to Madagascar and Zambia and is well-known for its fern-like leaves and beautiful orange to red flowers.

The Flame Tree is a tropical tree of the legume family that produces large, fiery red and golden flowers which bloom from spring to summer. It is in the Fabaceae family, with compound foliage common within the legume family. Delonix regia is an extremely popular bonsai choice for its colorful blooms and hardiness.

Flame Tree Bonsai Care Guide

The Delonix regia needs what most tropical plants require: frequent watering with well-drained bonsai soil and a lot of sunlight.

Pruning

The Flame Tree can be pruned heavily. They are fast growers and can handle a lot of different bonsai pruning techniques.

It is best to prune during the growing season when the plant is at its strongest throughout the year.

Oftentimes, bonsai growers will spread regular white glue on the wound of the Flame Tree to encourage healing. This is regular with larger cuts to the main trunk.

Wiring

Many growers choose to wire their Flame Tree bonsai. Medium to heavy gauge wire can be used. Just make sure to check the wire every 3-4 weeks so that the plant does not get damaged by growing into and through the wire.

Propagation

A common way to propagate Royal Poinciana is through seeds. It’s best to soak the seeds in chlorine-free water for 24 hours prior to planting them.

To encourage germination, place the seeds between a few wet paper towels and place them in a plastic container. Make sure to spray-mist them every day. Be aware that too much water will lead to mold and poor germination rates.

Another way to germinate the seeds of the Flame Tree is to use coco coir. First, create a thin layer of coco coir in a plastic container. Then place the seeds in a row along the top of the medium. After that, sprinkle more coco coir on the seeds and spray the entire area liberally. Remember, too much water is not good. You just want to wet the entire growing medium but not soak it.

After five days you will begin to begin to see germination.

At this point, closely monitor any seeds that have yet to germinate and make sure they do not have mold or disease on them. You will want to separate out any seeds with these issues so that the entire batch doesn’t go bad.

After ten days, take out the seeds and plant them in starter pots.

Soil

A good soil mixture for the Flame Tree includes coco coir, 1/4″ gravel, aged compost, sand, and a portion of inert material such as Akadama clay. The Flame Tree is a tropical plant that is accustomed to rapid rainfall and periods of dryness.

The soil mixture needs to be proportioned well and take into consideration the unique requirements of the Flame Tree.

Anything to help the soil drain well, such as inert material, is very important. Some bonsai growers even use chipped brick, finely ground up, as an additional amendment to their bonsai soil.

Appearance

Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant tree (Delonix regia)
Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant tree (Delonix regia)

The Flame Tree (Delonix Regia) reaches a maximum height of 40 feet. The trunk is large and buttressed towards the base. The bark is smooth and greyish-brown with many dots (lenticels).

 In reference to the prominently clawed petals, the generic name ‘Delonix” is derived from a Greek delos (visible) and onyx (“claw”), respectively. The genus name comes from the latin regis meaning royal, majestic, or magnificent.

The inner bark is light brown. The crown umbrella spreads with long, almost horizontal branches, forming a diameter greater than the tree’s height. Twigs are stout, greenish, and become brown when they get older. 

Roots are shallow. 

The many leaflets are completely thin and stalkless. They are rounded at their base and apex, with very fine hair on both sides. 

Natural Environment

The Flame Tree is a Madagascar and Zambia native and is common in all tropical and subtropical regions of the globe.

They are “dry” deciduous trees. It sheds its leaves in areas that have a dry season. In other areas, it can be almost evergreen.

It prefers a tropical climate or near-tropical, but it can tolerate drought and salty conditions. It likes sandy loamy or sandy soils that are free-draining and rich in organic matter. It does not like clay soils or heavy soils.

It now grows naturally in the following locations throughout the world: Brazil, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda

 It can be grown at higher elevations than suggested, but it will not flower as well. The tree needs light to thrive and will grow weakly in shade. 

It can grow in areas with a lot of rainfall and those with little. 

The Flame Tree is a shallow-rooted plant that competes with nearby shrubs and flowering plants.

It leaves no trace of the ground beneath its canopy. It should be planted separately from any other plants in the garden. Only in areas with a long, dry season are trees deciduous.

Other Names of Delonix regia

Depending upon the region referencing the plant, Delonix regia (Flame Tree) has other names it goes by. Here is a non-exhaustive list of other names you may have heard it referred to:

  • Flamboyant flame tree
  • Gold mohur
  • Flame Tree
  • Julu Tree
  • Peacock Flower
  • Flame of the Forest
  • Gul mohr
  • Royal Poinciana
  • Gold Mohar
  • Phuong (Vietnamese)
  • Flor de Pavo (Spanish)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.