Orchid trees (Bauhinia variegata) are fast-growing, deciduous trees that are indigenous to India, Vietnam and areas in southeastern China. They are revered for their 3 to 5 inch wide, slightly fragrant orchid-like blossoms that typically come in lavender-blue, magenta and purple colors. Orchid trees can grow to between 20 and 40 feet in height and are hardy in the USDA Zones 9 to 11.
Choose a suitable planting site for the orchid tree that is in full sun. Orchid trees create a lot of litter--such as dead blossoms, leaves and seed pods--so avoid planting the orchid tree near a swimming pool, fountain or a fish pond.
Turn over a 2-foot-wide section of soil in the planting area down to a depth of approximately 18 to 20 inches deep. Remove any rocks, sticks, roots and other similar objects from the soil as you turn it over.
Spread out a 2-inch layer of sphagnum peat moss over the soil in the planting area. Work the moss into the top 6 inches of soil using a shovel or a garden fork. Orchid trees prefer acidic soil, according to Floridata.com. The addition of sphagnum peat moss will help acidify the soil.
Dig a planting hole for the orchid tree that is 10 inches wide by 12 inches deep, if you are planting an orchid tree from a 1-gallon planting pot. If you are planting from a 5-gallon pot, dig the planting hole approximately 12 inches wide by 16 inches deep.
Lay the container of the orchid tree horizontally on the ground or a potting bench. Starting at a drain hole, cut along the sides of the pot up to the rim using a pair or all-purpose snips. Do this all the way around the pot until you peel back the plastic to remove the orchid tree from its growing container.
Wash off approximately 1 inch of soil all around the root ball of the orchid tree. This will help facilitate new root growth. If there are any matted, or ensnared roots, loosen them with your fingers.
Place the orchid tree into the previously dug planting hole. For best growth, check to make sure the top of its root system is sitting at, or slightly above (about 1-inch) the level of the surrounding topsoil. Hold the trunk of the tree vertical in its planting hole while you scoop in a few shovelfuls of soil to secure the tree in its planting hole.
Fill the planting hole full with soil firming it down around the root system with your foot.
Water the orchid tree generously. Provide between 2 and 3 gallons of water if you planted from a 1-gallon pot. Water with 6 to 7 gallons of water if you planted from a 5-gallon pot.