Bauhinia variegata - Orchid Tree
Flowering Bauhinias are the world's most beautiful trees. In summer, 5" orchid-like blossoms literally cover the tree. The rest of the year, heart-shaped foliage is breezy and attractive. Colors range from intense magenta to white. These seeds came from Bauhinia variegata, which has striped flowers. It is the most familiar here in California and the easiest to grow.
Native to Southeast Asia, Orchid Trees are cultivated in most warm regions as a garden showpiece or street tree. They are spectacular, fragrant, and easy to care for. Landscapers love them. All need full sun and rich, well-draining soil. Quite drought-tolerant, they do appreciate an occasional deep soak. Hardy to about 25 degrees, they thrive in zones 9-11.
They're fast growers, but can be trimmed to suit your garden, either as a single-trunk standard or a 20' shrub. Plant them where the fallen pods will be easy to sweep up. Most of the year, this is not a messy tree, but when the pods fall, they drop straight down, best over a lawn or sidewalk where cleanup is easy.
Bauhinia is easy to grow from seed. Soak them for a day or two, then plant in rich soil and keep warm.
Bauhinia needs to be scarified and soaked in warm water for 24 hours prior to sowing. Sow the seeds 1 inch deep in a well draining sandy potting soil and place in a warm/sunny location. Keep soil moist, but not soaking wet during germination. Cover with plastic wrap or zipper bag to keep in heat and moisture. Remove pastic wrap when you have seedlings.