Mexican Orchid Tree Blooms–Finally!

The Mexican Orchid Tree (Bauhinia mexicana),  I planted as a tiny seedling in October 2010  bloomed recently.

Yeah, I think it was worth the wait.

A friend  gave me a 4 inch seedling while I was helping with her garden.  I knew a little about the plant and that the Mexican Orchid Tree grows well in shade, though it doesn’t get as  large, nor blooms as prolifically as in full sun.  I dutifully planted the seedling in a dappled shade spot and waited.

The seedling died back during winter.  I didn’t expect it to survive because of two very hard freezes and the seedling, while well-mulched, hadn’t much time to establish.  The Mexican Orchid Tree reemerged in late spring of 2011.  It survived the Summer from Hell (2011) and grew throughout last year, only to die to the ground again during  winter, 2012.

Planted in a shady spot, my Mexican Orchid Tree will never become a “tree” for me.  It’s  an open and airy shrub, with (for now) two main branches.  Planted  in a garden with Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus), Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior), Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and assorted shade-tolerant plants,

it adds interesting foliage,

and lovely white blooms which brighten the shady area.

If planted in full sun, the Mexican Orchid Tree grows to 8-12 feet in height with a 6-8 foot spread. Reportedly deer resistant, it’s known as a great butterfly attracting plant, although.  I haven’t observed any butterflies on my blooms. I would consider it a xeric plant.  I haven’t  given any extra water other than the two times/month that is my norm and it’s grown well.

The flowers are beautiful,

and fragrant, too.

Here in Austin, the only two nurseries which regularly carry the Mexican Orchid Tree in stock are Barton Springs Nursery and The Natural Gardener.

Patience is a virtue (so I’m told) and I’m glad that I waited for this lovely addition to my garden.

20 thoughts on “Mexican Orchid Tree Blooms–Finally!

  1. Totally worth the wait.

    I’m happy to say I bet your patience will continue to pay off for years yet to come. I have a close relative growing back in dappled shade – an Anacacho Orchid (Bauhinia lunarioides) which has slightly smaller flowers and leaves both. It has survived all the insults doled out over the past 18 or so years, though the number and duration of blooms varies, depending. Long may they wave!


    • Hi Shirley! White flowers and variegated foliage are great in those dark places of a garden. The Mexican Orchid should work well for you in San Antonio. Let me know how it goes when you plant one


    • Hi Linda and thanks for stopping by. Growing Mt. Laurels from seed is patience indeed! I’m impressed with that! Both BSN and Natural Gardener carry this plant in 5 gallon pots (maybe 1 gallon from time-to-time). Mulching the roots well seems to be the consensus for winter (such as we have) survival and the plant will return in spring.


  2. It is beautiful! I just recently discovered this plant and want to add it to my garden. I have lots of part shade in my yard. It is difficult to find things that will bloom in the shade. I love the leaf structure on this plant as well. It does brighten up a shady spot.


    • Hi Steph! It’s a lovely plant and I hope you get one (or two or three…) for your gardens. I’m happy with mine. It’s in a resting phase now, but I hope to see more of those beautiful flowers this season.


  3. I’m on my second one. The first died in a hard freeze a few winters ago. But this one has established well under a live oak and comes back reliably each spring. The blooms glow nicely in the shade too.


    • Hi Pam! I think winter reliability is the main issue with the Mexican Orchid. But if it survives winter, it’s such a lovely and easy addition to the garden and it’s always great to have interesting shade-tolerant plants.


    • Thanks for stopping by, Dee! It is pretty and has done well here. You’re in Oklahoma and colder, but I bet you could try it in a container. I’ve really enjoyed mine this year.


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