Bauhinia blakeana. Hongkong Orchid Tree.

There is apparently strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that all trees of this Bauhinia cultivated today originate from a single ancestor grown in the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens. It has large deep rose-red, orchid-shaped blooms with a touch of white. The flowers can be cut and brought indoors. It is exceptionally long-blooming. Some sources say it is semi-evergreen, others state that it is evergreen .

Another feature of this tree are the twin-lobed leaves, which are typical of the Bauhinia genus. It is a deep-rooted plant so it does not like to be transplanted. It will tolerate hot, exposed positions and dry soils. Some sources say it requires full sun and regular watering. Others say that it is an excellent choice for sites that have dry soil or require drought tolerance. It also grows well in acidic soils.

My supplier told me that this would be a small tree, no more than 5 feet high, but internet sources say it grows to a height of 9 meters and a width of 4.5 meters. Certainly too big for the space I had in mind. However,as the flowers are so beguiling, I am keeping the two plants I bought. Perhaps in the tropics it doesn’t grow quite as tall as in subtropics? We’ll find out soon enough.

The Blakeana is completely sterile and thus requires artificial propagation . It can be grown from softwood and semi-hard cuttings, and by air-layering. It should be pruned regularly when it is young to help create a stronger structure. The branches can be brittle and may break off.


Bauhinia kockiana

Climbing Bauhinia. 1 at P 1,500 from Anihan. A native of the Malaysian jungle, this vine produces a frequent display of orange and red-orange flowers that can be up to 3.5 cm across in long racemes of up to 40 cm. Flowers age to orange-yellow or golden-yellow before they fade. Requires a stout support on which to grow. Likes rich, well-drained soil; prefers roots to be in the shade. Propagated by means of woody cuttings or seeds.


Bougainvillea

Sources of plant: the national road that goes through Bae, Laguna is lined with bougainvillea garden centres. They offer young plants as well as old, shaped ones with trunks the size of fists. Prices can drop to a third during the non-flowering (rainy) season, and may begin at Pesos 25 for new plants. I have seen a magnificent specimen selling for P10,000.


Beaumontia grandiflora

Easter lily vine, herald’s trumpet, Nepal trumpet flower. Woody vine from the Himalayan tropics. Has large fragrant white flowers resembling lilies. A strong growing climber, it can reach 6 m in full sun. The flowers appear on mature plants (about two years old) on year-old wood in trusses particularly during the cool season. The large leaves are glossy and dark green on the upper surface, pale and hairy underneath. Requires copious watering and well-drained soil. Propagation: take cuttings from firm new growth, apply rooting hormone, stick in well-drained soil and mist. May take 25-50 days to root.


Brugmansia versicolor ‘Peach’

1 at P150. In time, this can become a small tree. It has oblong smooth-edged leaves and pendulous flowers which are fragrant at night. The corollas are pale yellow at first, turning white and then peach as the flowers age; the teeth are long, flaring and recurved. Propagated from seed and by stem cuttings (these root quite easily and will do so even in water).


Brugmansia x candida ‘Double White’, ‘Flore Pleno’

Double Angel’s Trumpet. From a small nursery in Barangay Maharlika, Tagaytay. P15. A double-flowered brugmansia, with large velvety leaves and pendant hose-in-hose white ruffled flowers with a sweet musky scent. The foliage is easily distinguished from those of the other varieties by its soft grey hairs. Thought to be a hybrid between Brugmansia aurea and B. versicolor. Attractive to bees, birds and butterflies. It likes the sun, but will grow in partial shade. It should be watered regularly but not over-watered. It can be propagated from seeds and from stem cuttings; the latter will also root in water.


Bromeliads

3 plants; tolerates the sun. I am told that bromeliads that do not flower will tolerate some sun and that those that bear flowers have to be put in the shade. The ororojo does not flower.


Brunfelsia americana

Lady of the night. This native of the West Indies can develop into a small tree, up to 5 metres tall, but is generally grown as a shrub. It has upright, thin woody stems and dark green, leathery leaves. It has solitary, creamy-white five-petal flowers (which turn yellow as they age) with tubes up to 5 cm long. Flowers are borne on and off throughout the year. Fragrant only after dark, they have a smell reminiscent of jasmine with spicy undertones. The fruit is a marble-sized capsule with 2-10 black seeds.


Brunfelsia panciflora

Yesterday, today and tomorrow. Medium-sized shrub from South America. Fragrant tubular flowers open a rich lavender blue, and turn pale lavender and then white as they age. Grows to 1 metre. Likes some shade, rich well-composted soil and a warm, wind-sheltered position. Should be watered regularly. It is propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings. Flowers well in December and April-May.


Bucida spinosa, Bucida molinetii

Spiny black olive. Bought tree-sized specimen at P1,800. The bucida can grow to 3 m. Its major appeal lies in the growth of its leaves, which form in a horizontal zigzag pattern with almost no bottom growth. Once the branches are formed, the clip-and-grow method is all that it requires. Its leaves are tiny and while it is a prolific bloomer, its flowers are so small as to be insignificant. Its bark is rough and its trunk has a twisting movement. Suitable for bonsai cultivation. It likes the full sun and a moist soil.

Possible sources: Josie’s Gardens at RBR Laguna Gardens, Bagong Kalsada, Calamba City, Laguna and the numerous other garden centres that line the Calamba national road (and side roads: Bacnotan Drive). Had tiny white flowers in April 2004.