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Ask Dr. Hort: Identifying some springtime flowering trees of Florida

Questions bloom with spring trees

Noel Hines and his neighbors in their St. Petersburg neighborhood would like to know about a yellow tree they're unable to identify. Terry Cubine loves a pink tree but would like to know what kind it is. Folks, see below!

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And Gerri Hubbell has a purple tree — she knows it is a jacaranda , at right — but wants to know whether she can grow a tree from the seed pods.

From Dr. Hort: When done blooming in spring, green seed pods form. By late summer to early fall, seeds ripen and pods turn brown. Open the pod and remove the seeds, place them in a jar with very hot tap water and let them soak for 24 hours. Fill 3- to 4-inch plastic pots with a good seed starter mix such as Promix or Miracle Gro Potting Mix that has been lightly moistened. Press down to where the pot is full and it feels spongy. Using a pencil, poke a hole 1 inch into your mix and drop a seed into each hole. Cover with more mix, water and label with name and date. Place in a sunny spot, keep watered, and in one to two weeks your trees should sprout. Transplant into 3-gallon pots when they're 6 to 8 inches tall. After a year in the pots, plant them in a landscape location in full sun. A tree will take seven to 10 years to flower.

Take your pick: yellow, pink or purple

These three springtime flowering trees' leaves and blooms are deciduous, meaning they drop to a colorful blanket below. Some folks might find that a mess, but to others it's a spectacular sight. Although the three trees are hardy in west-central Florida, they are susceptible in their first five years. They could die in a hard freeze, when temperatures fall to 27 degrees or below for three hours. The jacaranda remains susceptible beyond five years. If there's a hard freeze, its crown, or top foliage, will die back.

Golden trumpet: Also known as yellow trumpet and tree of gold, Tabebuia argentea, or chrysotricha, blooms in March and April and grows to a height of 25 to 35 feet. Its canopy covers 15 to 20 feet. The golden trumpet has strong wood and weathers most storms.

Pink trumpet: Tabebuia impetiginosa blooms in March with a very showy spread for two weeks or so. The pink trumpet grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet and its canopy covers 15 to 20 feet. The pink trumpet has strong wood and weathers most storms.

Jacaranda: Jacaranda mimosifolia blooms in April and May for about six weeks. It also blooms again in August and September. Jacaranda grows to a height of 35 to 50 feet and its canopy is 25 to 35 feet. Leaves and blooms are deciduous. It's hardy to zone 11, though it's the least hardy of the three trees. Its wood is brittle and is susceptible to breakage during storms.

Need help? Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. E-mail him at drhort@tampabay.rr.com or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe problem in full, and include your name, city of residence and contact information. If possible, include a good-quality photo. Photos cannot be returned.

Ask Dr. Hort: Identifying some springtime flowering trees of Florida 04/09/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 8:54pm]

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