How to Plant and Space Royal Poinciana


Royal poinciana is a tropical tree with large spreading branches and fern-like leaves. It is adorned with bright orange and red flowers, thus earning it the name "flame tree." It is a fast-growing tree, making it suitable for quick shade in the home landscape. It provides dappled shade, allowing you to plant beds of shade-tolerant perennials under its canopy. It grows in warm climate areas with mild winters, primarily in USDA plant zones 9 and 10.

Step 1

Perform a soil test, available at garden centers or through university extension offices, before planting. Add the recommended amendments from the soil test to the soil to bring the pH between 5.6 to 6.5.

Step 2

Remove the seedling from its nursery pot. Plant it to the same depth in the ground that it was at in its nursery pot.

Step 3

Plant poinciana trees 10 feet away from walkways, driveways and building foundations so the roots do not cause damage to these structures. Space trees 15 to 20 feet apart.

Step 4

Water the poinciana thoroughly after planting. Continue watering weekly for the first year, providing 6 inches of water per week. No additional watering is needed after the first year as the tree is drought tolerant.

Step 5

Check the tree for signs of caterpillar damage, such as visible caterpillars or leaf damage, throughout the spring and summer. Treat caterpillar infestations with the proper chemical or organic control.

Tips and Warnings

  • The branches are softwood, making them prone to wind damage. Pruning off damaged branches allows the tree to often return to its former beauty in a few short years. Poinciana shed many leaves, flower petals and seed pods. Cleanup is necessary to manage the leaf waste.

Things You'll Need

  • Poinciana seedling
  • Soil test kit
  • Soil amendments
  • Shovel


  • University of Florida: Pretty Poinciana
Keywords: planting royal poinciana, flame tree, tropical trees

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.