Delonix Regia in Southern Cal?

February 6, 2006

I have a climate question... I am considering to plant a large Delonix Regia (poinciara, flamoboyant tree) as the primary shade tree in my yard. I live in Chula Vista, Zip 91910, about a mile from Ocean water. The ZIP code, and looking at the thermometer puts my in USDA zone 10b, maybe 11, and Sunset Gardening Zone 23. I am away from the marine layer, but can feel an occasional Ocean breeze (i.e. we are not totally inland - milder summers, milder winters; and not directly on the water). The tree would be in the middle of watered lawn. Will it live? Anything I should consider about the soil, watering, etc?

Thanks a bunch!!

Comments (50)

  • pianodoctor

    If you're lucky it will be a pathetic beat up plant but more than likely it will not live. 10B/11 Southern California is a world away from 10B/11 Southern Florida, where the Royal Poinciana is easy. Here, there is too little total heat and too little humidity. Plants that are totally at home in full sun in So Fla get fried in So Cal.

  • sonotaps

    Whoa there!

    I would agree that you probably don't have enough heat that they would typically like (so it would be a slow grower for you but cold should be no big deal), but they don't need much in terms of humidity. We had this discussion in the AZ Forum (with pictures). We grow them in Subtropical low desert here in Phoenix (Yuma, Phoenix, Tucson triangle and in the Colorado River Valley). Some areas are warmer than others mind you but the link demonstrates that they do well here (a pretty hostile place, really). There is even at least one in Tucson (at the U of A) and they can be much colder than we are in winter at night.

    Now, for your situation in Chula Vista:

    Explore the wonders of microclimates! If you have a hot south wall or if your house is southern exposure in Chula Vista that can reflect heat to make up for your lack of heat units, I would go for it. A nice rock mulch will reflect heat up for you too! If it grows over your house your roof will reflect heat too. Those are just examples of things to consider since I have never been to your house and don't know the layout.

    I'm from SoCal (OC) originally so I know what your climate there is like.

    People in Florida (or transplants, as the case may be - and really only southern Florida people)would tell me that my entire landscape wouldn't grow and don't even try (see my ID for what I grow). It's pretty cool growing a Cardons and Saguaro Cacti and other xeriscape wonders next to Mangos, Guavas, Royal Palms, Foxtail Palms, Bananas, Avocados, etc. though.

    Try that in Florida!

    I'm kidding around and just giving pianodoctor a little hard time.

    I'm not saying that growing out of your zone is for everybody, but it's not rocket science either as long as you do your research and utilize microclimates.

  • pianodoctor

    Thanks, I don't mind being corrected. And congratulation on what sounds like a very commendable zone-pushing accomplishment on your property. I am trying similar things myself. But I have known a few "zone pushers" around here who attempted Royal Poincianas with poor results and that is what prompted my response. You could very well be right that it's not so much humididty as other things. I also know a giant boulder-laden hillside (Mt Helix) property here with an incredibly warm microclimate and he can grow stuff you don't find anywhere else around here. Perhaps on his property Royal Poinciana would be worth a try.

    But based on the description in the original Q, sticking one in the middle of a yard in Chula Vista, it seemed unlikely. Especially for someone who is looking for a fast shade tree, as opposed to primarily being a zone experimenter.

    Best Regards,

    Rick Clark

  • gardenguru1950

    Whoa there sonotaps!

    If Delonix regia had not been tried to any extent in the gazillion microclimates of So. Cal, I might have your same philosophy -- "give it a try".

    But this tree has been on the list of SC plant collectors for decades (since Victorian times, actually) and there still isn't one tree anywhere in SC that I know of that is of any age. I've seen plenty planted but with no success.

    If I'm wrong about no existing trees, PLEASE somebody, correct me.

    Trying NEW plants where one is not sure of its general adaptability is good stuff. Re-inventing the wheel is not, however, what Marc is thinking.


  • sonotaps

    Me (to myself):

    Whoa there, Sean!


    Mea Culpa (or not...?) If anyone has had success, let the 'gardenweb bunch' know! Has to be in the ground though (we should set some rules on this).


    Forget what I said. You're toast (just kidding). I'll let you have some or our heat so you can grow one (I just don't know how to send it to you). I suspect I would be quite popular in Phoenix if I could actually accomplish that. I'll bet you would have two issues. Root rot (unless planted on a mound to have better drainage-soil heating cables might be good too-a very wet winter might be a killer without supplemental soil heating) and while you may be able to keep it alive it may not bloom for you (so what would be the point)? Bragging rights are pretty cool, though. I just plant on mounds; I have never used soil heaters but I have seen a couple people in SoCal use them because you guys have wetter winters than we do.

    Believe me, I wasn't trying to correct anything. I was just trying to mention some things to help success if someone wanted to try one. That is all. Zone pushers excluded, your answer is far better than mine.


    How refreshing it is to see that we can grow something that SoCal people can't though, unless you are inland with more heat.

    Speaking on an anecdotal basis from a quick web search, someone has mentioned having one in San Diego, Fullerton, Camarillo (wow, that is quite cool up there relatively speaking). I believe in photographic evidence however.

    It would seem that if you can get coconut to grow in Newport Beach (certainly a rarity and triumph any way you look at it), you might get a Royal Poinciana to do something for you. Call me crazy, but I find a coconut to be the very flower of 'finicky'.

    Depends on what you are willing to try I guess.

    No guts, no glory I suppose. Then again, as Joe says, would it be a lesson in futility?

    I love being rhetorical...

  • sonotaps

    Brief Sunset article:

    Delonix Regia in Riverside.

    Riverside weather stats:

    Marc mentioned he was a mile from the ocean without much marine influence:

    Spring Valley/Lemon Grove (north and just inland from Chula Vista but not like 'Riverside inland' stats:)

    Chula Vista

    As you know, things can vary quite a bit a mile away...

    I have 3 sensors around my yard to compare myself to the 'airport' temperature here in Phoenix. One could do the same elsewhere. I am generally warmer in the day than the airport and cooler at night (they moved the sensor to a cooler spot at the airport some years back).


  • marc007


    you guys are incredible - thanks a million for all the very educational answers. It doesn't look like I can make that hot microclimate happen in this location... it's definitely not far enough inland to be considered anything like SoCal-HOT (such as Riverside). The soil underneath is regularly sprinkled for the lawn, but the house is on a slight elevation compared to the surrounding neighborhood so root rot might not be too much of a problem if I am lucky. But, the bottom line seems to be, that I can only be sure by trying it out. That's time-consuming when measured up against my goal of quickly having a large shade tree in place in this location. Ugh. So my next question is... (that will hopefull spur more interesting debate...): what should I plant instead ;-) ??


  • gardenguru1950


    If you're looking for some nice exotic-looking flowering shade trees for Chula Vista, try these:

    Arbutus 'Marina'
    Cassia leptophylla
    Calodendron capense
    Castanospermum australe
    Chorisia speciosa (a very open shade tree)
    Dombeya cacuminum
    Dombeya wallichii
    Erythrina x sykesii
    Pittosporum napaulense
    Senna splendida
    Spathodea campanulata
    Tabebuia chrysotricha
    Tabebuia impetiginosa
    Tipuana tipu


  • gaza

    the fullerton arboritum has one that blooms,cant find the pics,that some one sent me,but it was old,HUGE,but had blooms
    the flowering of t seems an issue.
    heat or age?
    as for growing the tree it self,it gets through the winters,just fine here,i have seen tiny seedlings-to 8 foot trees,all never have shown any distress.
    they lose their leaves,in late feb,early march,and then regrow in late march-early april[pretty much like the jacarandas do here]
    they are VERY fast growers here,and even if it never flowered,the fern-like foliage,is very beautiful,flowers,would of course be an ADDED bonus

  • patrick_in_fb

    This really has been an interesting thread - I love to see lively, informed disagreement! It's how we all learn.

    I like the suggestions on Joe's list, but I would comment that a couple of them are not what I would consider fast, large growers, which were two of Marc's criteria. I find tabebuias, for example, to be pretty slow growers, and VERY shy about blooming until they're mature.

    I particularly like erythrina x sykesii. It will reliably give you the red flowers you crave, Marc - but in a watered lawn, it might even grow TOO fast! You can see a great photo of one in February's "Sunset" magazine, page 52. The tree pictured just happens to be in my garden, so I can recommend it first-hand!

  • susi_so_calif

    Marc ~
    I'd definitely recommend either Dombeya cacuminum or Spathodea campanulata for flowering shade trees that grow quickly in our area. I grew both in Encinitas and was delighted with them.

    Tolearn more about trees for Mediterranean gardens, check out the book published by the San Diego Horticultural Society. It was published in 2003 and is called Ornamental Trees of San Diego. An expanded, updated edition (with detailed info on 260 trees and 500 color photos) will be available in a couple of weeks, and it's called Ornamental Trees for Mediterranean Climates. Lots of nurseries in San Diego sell the book, including Walter Andersen Nursery (near Old Town).

    Hi Patrick - great article about your garden!

    Here is a link that might be useful: San Diego Horticultural Society

  • socal23

    I'm resurrecting an old thread because I noticed last night that the new SSWGB now lists D. regia as suitable for zones 22 and 23 as well as the more typical H2. Any thoughts?


  • Dick_Sonia

    Sunset Magazine had a blurb a while back about a Delonix that had been successfully flowering in Riverside, so I'm not too surprised that they are hypothesizing the existence of a SoCal Delonix Belt in their plant profiles. But I think it's premature (it would be interesting to know how the Riverside delonix fared in January's freeze). As noted, they do better in southern Arizona than SoCal. They are not plants for Mediterranean climates; they want their rainfall peak to come in summer.
    In general I agree with Joe. Delonix regia has been somewhat of a holy grail in SoCal for over a hundred years. It's not a new idea; tens of thousands were planted in previous decades. Look around your neighborhood for an assessment of the long-term success rate. I would also agree with the view that Erythrina is the "California Delonix". I don't think that Delonix regia has anything on Erythrina coralloides. If I could grow either of those two, I would probably choose the latter.

  • gaza

    no damage at 30
    try it,at least you will get lush leaves like jacaranda,and maybe blooms
    i have never been below 40,but got to 30!
    no damage
    gary,culver city

  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    Well,on the internet right now is one in almost full bloom in some regular guys yard in San Diego. The consensus is that the almost total lack of winter rain this year helped-but it obviously must have been growing in the wet years also to be the size it is.
    Culver city-great climate.....

  • siegel2

    Here some photos of my Delonix Regia here in south Orange County California.




  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    Gare,i have a variegated canna also. But,mine i bought from the pond plant section.And it is.When i tried to grow it in a pot the leaves would develop a brown edge..gave up and put it in my small pond-now,looks perfect.It has stayed small since i haven't goten around to taking it out of a one gallon. Is yours the same type? looks too big to be the same as mine but i haven't heard of a variegated non- aquatic canna.
    Your poinciana photo is recent?
    And Mr.Sonia-If your still reading these posts,i have coralides from seed here in the bay area..doing good,a little slow,but good.Three foot and growing..

  • siegel2


    I think we have the same canna. Its name is "Stuttgard". They get 10 feet tall and spread like wildfire. I pulled mine out from under my Colvillia racemosa. (The ones you see in the photo). They just get too tall and take over an area too quickly.

    I don't have any recent photos of my Royal poinciana. The top half took a hit from our unusually cold winter, but it growing back very well right now.

  • andrew_grower

    I know for fact that Delonix regias grows well in San Diego.
    They are a fast growing tree about 5 to 6 feet a year for the first 3 years depending on the area of San Diego you live.

    The San Diego Zoo has two large trees that were planted around 1992. I'm not sure if they have bloomed yet though. Also, in the western edition of Balboa Park there is a HUGE Delonix regia about 35'+ tall and close to 45' wide. I have no idea how old this tree is, however. I just discovered yesterday a blooming Delonix regia in Banker's Hill just east of downtown San Diego. The tree is about 13' tall and
    around 20' wide approximately. I took many pictures.

    I was like most of the people on this tread and thought they
    could not grow or bloom in California. However, when I moved to San Diego in 2000 I meet a person who sold heliconias and he had a 12' Delonix regia which had been in the ground for two years.

    I do have pictures of these trees. If anyone would like to see them I would be happy to e-mail the pictures to you.

  • siegel2


    Do you know how to post the photos here?

    I'm sure lots of people would like to see them.

  • andrew_grower

    I have posted a website to view the pictures of the Royal Poincianas: and the user name is Andyplantman with the password plumeria (password in lowercase). I had to set the pictures up this way because I wasnÂt able to post the pictures to the garden website. Sorry!

    If someone knows how to post the pictures from to this website feel free to do so.

    The pictures have titles above to show where they have been taken.

    If you have questions feel free to e-mail me.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Poinciana Pictures

  • angelcub

    Andrew, to post pics from PB, go to the pic you want to post and copy the HTML tag (on a Mac you just have to click on this link and it will "copy" it). Then Paste this tag into the body of your message here. You will just see a line of code but once you hit preview the pic will show up.

    If you'd rather post a link to the pic, copy the Share URL and paste it into the Optional URL box under the message box on here. Be sure to give it a name in the Name the link box.

    Very simple -give it a try.

  • siegel2

    Here you go. Great photos Andy!

    Bankers Hill

    Bankers Hill

    San Diego Zoo

    Balboa Park

  • andrew_grower

    Gary, thank you very much for the instructions and posting some of the Delonix pictures. If you ever get to San Diego I can give you exact directions to where the four trees are located.

    I just wanted to make a note that the two other trees(to the
    right) next to the San Diego Zoo Delonix are some type of Yellow Shower Tree. One of the horticulturist at the S.D. Zoo
    said the seeds came from somewhere in the Caribbean.

  • andrew_grower

    Here is another incredibly beautiful flowering Delonix regia that bloomed August 2006 according to this website. The tree is located on Commercial street south of Downtown San Diego. I haven't seen this tree personally, however I will locate it and take pictures if it is in bloom right now.

    Actually, what's so encouraging about seeing these blooming Delonix is that they seem to be fairly close to the ocean.

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:513527}}

  • andrew_grower

    I found the Commercial St. D. regia as posted above. It is located south east of Downtown San Diego. The tree is beautifully full, however it had no buds.

    I did get to speak with one of the occupants of the property. He said that the tree usually blooms almost every year around September or October. He encouraged me to take many pictures. He also, gave me three seed pods that were on the tree. I will plant these seeds to see if they are viable. I will inform you all of the results in a future posting.

    I have posted the new pictures in this same photo album Royal Poincianas: and the user name is Andyplantman with the password plumeria (password in lowercase)

    Unfortunately my computer is unable to post from photobucket .com to the Garden Website per the instructions above. Sorry!

    As before, if any can post the pictures to this website feel free to do so. Thanks.

  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    Delonix does a great Albizzia impersonation. Is there any history of it's dieing related to the same virus that kills Mimosa trees?. Or is it just too new to California for anybody to know?
    What else about the tree-is it evergreen? is it messy? if deciduous,is it dormant as long as the Mimosa?

  • andrew_grower

    I have no information about a virus that kills mimosa trees.
    However, I have read that D. regia is not affected by many
    maladies. I know that the tree does go deciduous for a couple of months in the winter. They are not as messy as the
    millions of Jacarandas growing in California, which I love.

    I know for fact that D. regia is not as messy as Albizia julibrissin. I like A.julibrissin but it seems to do better as a park tree or one who has a very large lot.

  • andrew_grower

    I went to Fullerton Arboretum yesterday, and discovered they have two beautiful flowering D. regia specimens. I believed they were past the peak of flowering due to the long green pods that were developing and the few flowers on the trees.

    I have posted new pictures of these trees in the photo album
    labeled Royal Poincianas. They are located in and the user name is Andyplantman with the password plumeria (password in lowercase).

    As you will notice the trees are very healthy and flowering, and approximately 22 - 25 feet tall with equal or greater spread. However, I don't know how old these trees are.
    I do know that the tree were exposed to 28 degrees for about three days and I didn't notice any damage on the trees whatsoever. Enjoy the pictures!


  • andrew_grower

    In the previous message I meant to say that the trees were
    exposed to two morning lows of 28 degrees according to one of the Horticulturist at Fullerton Arboretum.

  • andrew_grower

    I just discovered another D. regia one mile from my house in the College Area of San Diego. It is unfortunately kept dwarfed by pruning. The only information I can obtain about the tree is that it was planted by the owners of the liquor store that it was planted in front of 3 years ago. It seems to receive a lot of water by way of a sprinkler system. The tree is very healthy.

    I will add the current pictures that I have taken to the Royal Poincianas Album in that I started a couple months back.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Poinciana Pictures

  • s_p8987

    I just found this thread,
    does anyone know if flame tree can be grown in containers in 8b? Plumeria is not hardy in our zone, but they grow wonderfully in containers. I'm hoping Delonix will as well

  • andrew_grower


    My neighbor has had a D. reiga (flame tree) in a large 7-10 gallon terra cotta pot for about 12 years. I have also seen then grown in 10-15 gal. containers on the internet.

    I would say it would be pretty easy. However, it must be taken into a protected area before temperatures go below 35 degrees. They will not tolerate cold wet soil.

  • lemecdutex

    No one mentioned it, but I've seen large Royal Poinciana trees in bloom in Palm Springs, so they apparently don't have a need for high humidity like I would have thought. Another beautiful tree for southern California frost-free zones is the African Tulip Tree (there's a fantastic huge one on Venice Blvd in LA).


  • senjanevada

    I live in Central Valley, Nothern CA. I have 3 Flamboyant tree seedlings now. I will move to Southern CA (Hi-desert, San Benardino county - zone 9) and bring 2 seedlings with me while the other 1 will be given to my friend in Santa Rosa, Nothern CA.

    I wish these 2 seedlings will grow and survive (and I hope more seeds will sprout soon). I'll keep posting the latest news of my babies Flamboyant, here.

  • debbysunshine

    I'm here in Penasquitos and it gets pretty hot where you are. When we moved into this house there was a huge Coral Tree out front, very beautiful and healthy full of flowers but it was picking up all the concrete with its roots. Next door bought one of those one gallon trees with purple flowers and very large leaves that was guaranteed to grow full size in a year and it did maybe 30' and the roots are huge and leaves everywhere and this is right in the front of their house and so much shade just like our Coral Tree that nothing grew underneath and also makes the front of their house look small and uninviting and it's a pretty house just consumed by that tree. It was a small fortune to have that Coral Tree removed but my front gardens full of sun just love me for it. Think about what you are doing first and what trouble things get down the line.

  • andrew_grower

    I have posted new pictures from a couple of blooming San Diego Delonix regia for people who don't believe that D. regia can grow or bloom in Southern California.

    It is in Royal Poincianas Album in the password is plumeria. I took the pictures today 7/24/08.
    I have set up a link.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • andrew_grower

    To view the link above. The user name is: andyplantman
    and the password is: plumeria all in lower case. Please
    respond to pictures.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Poinciana Pictures

  • lemecdutex

    Wonderful photos! How far inland are those trees? Is it in the hotter arts of San Diego or cooler coastal sections. They certainly look healthy!


  • andrew_grower

    Ron, the trees are located about a mile and a half or so from San Diego Bay. It is generally cooler during the day close to the bay, however, the night time temperatures can be 5 to 7 degrees warmer than inland areas because of the humidity.

    In response to Palm Springs Poincianas. Friends of mine have seen very large blooming trees there. I know they are widely grown in Yuma, AZ. I've seen many pictures. Yuma same the same climate as Palm Springs.

    Here is a link to an Arizona thread.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Poinciana in Phoenix

  • andrew_grower

    Here is another website with a beautiful D. regia blooming in La Habra, Ca. It is in Orange County.

    Here is a link that might be useful: La Habra Royal Poinciana

  • andrew_grower

    Here is a picture of a blooming San Diego Royal Poinciana located about a mile east of Petco Park in Downtown on Commercial St. The tree is almost in full-bloom.



  • joe_bui

    Here is another one in San Diego that is about 10 years old. It is located in Sherman Heights:


  • kt_in_escondido

    What a great thread! I've just returned from 3 weeks on Moloka'i, and I fell in love with this tree. I really like the umbrella shape and the shade possibilities. We live in Escondido, above the city, near Lake Hodges, and I have a south-facing wall with a south-sloping roof. We are about 8 miles from the the crow flies.

    The question is...where would I buy Delonix Regia in the San Diego region?



  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    Is it just me(lol) or do the San Diego tree's while less floriferous are much more dense than those in Arizona?

  • andrew_grower


    I have had the same observation about the California Delonix regias. They seem to be more compact and denser trees than in pictures of trees I have seen in Phoenix and in Florida.
    I haven't come to any conclusions why this is...does anybody have any ideas?

    Katie, there's two D. regias available for sale as of 8/9/08 at Hunter's Nursery in Spring Valley,CA. One is
    a 15 gal. for $139.00 and a 24" box for $495.00. I took pictures of these tree this past Sunday. I'll post the
    pics. Also, J.D. Nursery in Fallbrook, Xotx - Tropico Neo Flora Gardens in West Hollywood have them available for sale.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Sherman Heights, San Deigo - D. regia

  • andrew_grower

    Here's my pictures of the Sherman Heights, San Diego Royal Poinciana. I took these pictures on 8/9/09. Unfortunately, this tree was past peak in blooming. I have several more pictures of this tree in the photobucket Royal Poincianas album.



  • andrew_grower

    The pictures above were taken on August 9, 2008.

    I'm adding one more picture of one of the trees at Fullerton Arboretum. Unfortunately, it was past peak. Enjoy!


  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    To grow this in the SF bay area is going to take Mango like protection. It probably cant be done long term..but fun to try.

  • stanofh 10a Hayward,Ca S.F. bay area

    So far,I have one three years from seed. Its still in a pot..and came close to death last winter/spring. Sprouted very late- then grew from a 8" trunk to 2" or so of growth.

    I - seeing how much happier they are when roots can roam- might plant it out next summer. With a gopher basket around the roots.

    I don't why- I don't need any shade!

    For the challenge I guess.

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