27.9.10

The Fabulous Silk Floss Tree


Chorisia speciosa





One of the premier flowering trees of this season is the Silk Floss Tree, Chorisia speciosa , named as such for its soft silky fiber surrounding the avocado-sized seed pods. This is one of the most spectacular flowering trees in the area, rivaling a Royal Poinciana in its "Wow" appeal. The tree thrives on poor rocky soils, is undemanding in its need for care, and after it is established, need no particular attention from you. Naturally, with all these qualities, there is a downside or two. The tree comes with a formidable-looking set of thorns on the trunk, and the roots can come up out of the ground. The tree is deciduous part of the year, but usually after the flowers open like slow-motion foreworks in September and October. In some of the selected varieties, the flowers can exceed 6 inches in diameter. There are numerous grafted and named varieties with predictable colors and flower shapes, although I have never seen a bad-looking Silk Floss Tree.

Growing this rather imposing tree takes some space, but the location only needs to be very sunny and very well drianed. Once established the tree needs fertilizing and watering occasionally for the first few years, after which your involvement in the tree's care is almsot zero .

A light pink variety of Silk Floss Tree


Silk Floss Tree in full bloom












Silk Floss tree thorns
If you do choose to plant a Silk Floss Tree, make sure you plant the tree in a well drained spot, and stake the tree securely for the first 18 months. The roots take a while to get established, but once the roots get hold of the native soil, the trees are fairly secure. Withhold water or turn off the sprinklers from November to March for best blooms. This tree gets along quite well with bougainvilleas and other flowering trees which need no water or fertilizer, such as many Tabebuia species, and several other members of the Legume family. These are among the best of the fall-flowering trees, so choose the variety wisely and give the tree plenty of room to grow over time. You will be rewarded with beautiful fragrant flowers when there are few other trees in bloom. Planting small drought-tolerant shrubs around the base of the tree will prevent anyone from contacting the thorns, and choosing a site 20 or 30 feet away from pavement or septic systems will keep the roots away from trouble. Don't let the trees few shortcomings steer you away from one of the best flowering trees we can grow in the area.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

108 comments:

  1. I have a 30'-40' tall Floss Silk tree in my yard, it is between 15-20 years old. It has white flowers with just a bit of pink tinge in the center. Recently someone has expressed interest in buying it. Would you happen to know how much they go for? I have heard they can get $10,000 or more.

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  2. Good question ! The tree you mention is worth some serious money, but I couldn't appraise the tree accurately. Many of the established tree service firms will do a tree apraisal, at least in terms of replacement costs, as will many consulting arborists. Such an appraisal report is as valuable to the sale of the tree as would an evaluation from a mechanic before you sell your car.

    Many tree-moving companies can also appraise and evaluate your tree. The tree is approaching maturity, and should be root-pruned 6-8 weeks before moving. The trees usually move without fuss, and usually establish quite well. Good luck and good hunting for a company to assist with the move.

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  3. Dear Mr. Morell,
    I would like to buy a silk floss tree as a Xmas present for my parents. Do you know where the best /most affordable place to get this in Miami?
    Thank you,
    Kim

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  4. Hi Kim- sorry to have taken so long to get back to you---I was on vacation.The best place I know of is Richard Lyons' Nursery on Sw 134 Avenue at SW 202 Street. He has more varieties than anyone I know, including some excellent grafted varieties. 305-905-1801, or www.rarefloweringtrees.com. Hopefully you can still salvage the gift idea !

    Good hunting,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  5. I have a few trees in pots which I've grown from seeds. They're only a couple of years old and have not flowered. I live in Central Florida about an hour north of Tampa. We get hard frosts and I'm concerned they could die if I plant them in my yard 9 (I drag the pots into the garage when a freeze is forecasted). Could these plants survive a frost?

    Thanks,
    Karin

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  6. Hi Karin-- yes you should be worried about them freezing. Although I have seen the trees as far north as Gainesville in protected spots, on the south sides of buildings, the tree is more comfortable further south. Try a few trees in a wind-protected, south-facing exposure, see what happens. The trees can take a lot of cold weather, if the sun can warm up the trunk and roots fast after the cold night. The trees can be found fairly easily, and seed is readily available from this part of the state if your trees die in cold weather. Good luck and keep the faith,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  7. Hi there Craig! Thanks for your great articles.

    We have a Silk Floss tree we had planted 8 or so years ago. It's probably 20 feet tall, with a 6-8 diameter trunk. It has never really thrived, with only a few smallish branches (large twigs really) and little foliage. Some of the branches died and broke off. This year it hasn't produced any leaves at all, no buds, nothing.

    Pretty sure it's dead or nearly dead.. we're talking about chopping it down but I wonder if it would be worth it to try hacking it down a bit and see if any life springs forth?

    So sad, we had such high hopes for this (quite expensive) tree. A few years back we paid an arborist(?) to come take a look at it and he told us the landscaper had buried it a foot too deep. We dug out a circle around the base down to where the tree should have been. Maybe the depth just slowly killed it.

    I could send pictures if that helps. Thanks a lot!

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    1. Hi Aaron- It is always sad to hear of the death of a nice flowering tree. I agree that the tree could have died if it were planted too deep; it's better to plant them a bit high in the planting hole and add soil if needed. If there is life in the lower sections of the trunk, cut off the top portions and see if the lower trunk sprouts. If it does, make sure the tree stays fairly low, under 15 feet, for the rest of its life. If the tree grows as a multi-stemmed tree-bush, it will be more prone to breaking up in high winds, so keep the crown fairly low. You may be able to save the tree, but have to relinquish the idea of having a big tree.

      Silk-floss trees are coming down in price, and seedlings can be purchased for a reasonable price. The grafted ones are still expensive. The seedlings may indeed have more vigor, but you may end up with a smaller flower of lighter colored flower. I suggest that for the long run, try growing a seedling plant, to reinvigorate your interest in the tree. You should have a flowering sized tree in 3-4 years.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  8. I've seen these pinecrest flowers and they're absolutely beautiful up close. I'm always amazed at how big their seeds are.

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  9. What type of fertilizer is recommended in the first few years? We had ours put in just a year ago, and the trunk is definitely wider in diameter and the top has grown taller. The leaves are sometimes yellowish, so I'm thinking fertilizing might help that.

    Is there something that can encourage the size of the thorns? The thorns on ours are small-medium and just on the bottom half of the trunk, from the first set of branches (which are small and being nibbled by the deer) down. More water? Less water?

    And it hasn't yet bloomed, but it is just the first year. Perhaps this fall, fingers crossed.

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  10. Greetings Deb- This species is easy to grow regarding its fertilizer needs. I suggest a balanaced fertilizer such as 12-4-12 palm special, which has the micronutrients in it to support the tree, but not so much nitrogen as to induce fast growth. Use a rate of 1 pound of fertilizer for each inch of trunk diameter, and spread the fertilizer out in a big circle near the edges of the tree canopy.

    The thorns will develop all by themselves as the tree gets older and taller. In some cases in older trees, thorns start to grow so closely together that they grow on top of each other. This tree needs to go fairly dry between waterings, and this tactic will keep the tree from growing faster than the trunk can support. As for yellowing leaves, more often than not a few applications of liquid iron applied to the roots will help with the leaf color. Mix up 5 gallons of Ironite or any liquid iron solution ( follow the directions on the product label) plus 5 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and pour the solution on the roots. Repeat in 4 weeks, and again in 4 more weeks. The tree should look better fast. If all goes well, your tree should flower late next month or early October, depending on where you live. Reduce water after the tree goes leafless, and wait for new growth to appear before fertilizing again.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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    1. Thank you for your detailed reply!
      Deb

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  11. Thank you so much for your excellent advice.I live near Ft. Myers. I have two Silk Floss trees in my backyard. One is about 6 years old, has no thorns (never has), has bloomed the last 4 years or so, and looks very healthy. I am actually anxiously awaiting the further growth of the buds as they are about acorn size right now. The second tree is about 4 years old and has never bloomed. It got hurt by a freeze just after it was planted. The second tree also has several bare limbs and several with smaller leaves than the first. It has never bloomed, but I am hoping still.It does have the thorns and they appear to be just fine. Should I fertiilze both trees? Should I trim off the bare limbs? I am not convinced they are dead as they are still green and flexible.

    Thank you so very much.

    Shelly

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  12. Good morning Shelly, for the time being, let the trees go through their normal habits until March, then fertilize them with palm or fruit tree fertilizer, at the rate of a pound of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter.In that method, a tree with a 6 inch trunk diameter gets 6 pounds of fertilizer in May and September. As for the bare limbs, wait until the Spring growth flush shows which limbs are really alive, then trim as you wish. Right about now, these trees are starting to go into flower, and will shed leaves at the same time, with a dormant period starting in a few weeks. They'll sit still for about 4 months, then grow out new leaves fast and lush, in April.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  13. Hello,

    I have a huge huge Silk Floss tree and live in Central Florida...it's probably 20-22 years old...it originally had a sister tree that broke in half during the 2004 hurricane(when the tree was about 30'-40')...The tree left standing is now close to 60' and is now spreading out toward my house and I worry of the limbs dropping on the house(they do suddenly just drop every once in awhile...but so far just on shrubbery and small limbs ....I am going to have a couple of large branches trimmed to let the air flow a little better(the tree trimming company was in complete awe by it's size and the scope of the project...which means I am going to probably be in shock by the price of the trim)...The tree looks very healthy and seems quite sturdy but I am still quite nervous about the tree toppling or losing large limbs...Is it a good idea to trim the lower branches...and should I warn the tree trimmer of anything he should NOT do...I fear he may harm the tree...He is using a tall ladder and will climb the rest but will NOT be using any spikes...any trimming advice...I can also take a picture and post it if you'd like...Thank you. Emilie

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  14. Hi Emilie-- the tree will trim out easily, and the branch cuts heal over quickly without trouble. My only advice is to trim the ends of the branches off first, cutting back toward the trunk, rather than trying to cut off the whole brach at one time, as many cutters do. The bark is extremely thin, and can tear easily, so care must be taken to leave a nice clean cut. Other than that, the tree will still look good and may even grow a bit faster in response to being cut; it will want to replace the lost foliage.

    Good luck,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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    1. Thank you Craig for the quick response. I will pass your advice on to the trimmers. Haha I am trying to slow it's growth my only reason for trimming is that it has sprouted a large limb that is quite low and that limb has sprouted several large vertical limbs that I am hoping once we trim it , the wind will flow better through the tree...It is a HUGE tree and a bit intimidating...how high do these trees grow? I am so worried of it toppling...It looks very healthy...but it is higher than my neighbors 2 story house...I am guessing 60'+. How safe are these lovely trees? Thanks again for your advice.
      Emilie

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    2. Hi Emilie- the tree usually grows to about 35 or 40 feet at its maximum, so overtopping a 2 story house would not be unusual. Limbs that grow straight up should be removed; the tree is better served and more stable with horizontal branches. The trees are actually rather strong, and unlikely to simply "lose" branches. The wood is moderately strong, but will break in very high winds, as many trees do. Like most tropical trees, the roots are quite shallow and prone to lifting out of the soil, but in most growing conditions the trees root solidly. The main issue to handle is to keep the tree on a moderate diet, rather than overfeeding it, causing a top-heavy tree. The tree is native to seasonally dry areas, so it really doesn't need much irrigation or fertilizer to grow and flower well. The tree should go leafless in winter, so turn off irrigation near the tree after Labor Day if possible. Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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    3. Thank you again...I assume if the tree only goes to 40' then mine has maxed out...so hopefully trimming it, won't make it grow taller. (-: I so appreciate your information. It makes me feel a bit calmer as I look up at this beautiful but intimidating tree. Other than rain....and once a week irrigation(really not aimed at the tree but it does get a little), it stays dry...and I have never fertilized it.
      Thank you.

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    4. Emilie, you are quite welcome to the information, especially given that you are the owner of such a grand tree. Perhaps a light fertilizing in the summer will boost its blooms , while keeping its growth speed to a calm level. About 1/2 of a 25 pound bag of palm or fruit tree fertilizer should be sufficient for such a large tree. Spread the fertilizer out around the edges of the canopy, in May or June; should do the job just great. I look forward to hearing from you next October, with a report of improved blooming !

      best wishes,

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  16. Hi. I have a silk floss that we planted three years ago. The first two years, we had a modest amount of new leaves and flowers in September. This year, we had very fee leaves and not one flower. It appears that many of the small branches are dead. I am heart broken. I am afraid it may have been planted too near a tamarisk that keeps reappearing even though it has been scalped to the ground. Do you have any suggestions?

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  17. Greetings, I suspect that the Tamarisk is the culprit for the problem you see. The tamarisk has to be killed in order for the Silk Floss to survive. If you cut the tamarisk to the ground, apply an herbicide to the cut trunks that is specifically designed to kill woody plants, such as the active ingredient in Poison Ivy Killer, called trichlopyr. Roundup herbicide will not work. Tamarisk is an aggressive plant with a large root system that out-competes almost any plant around it, stealing water and fertilizer supplies from its neighbors. In April, fertilize the Silk Floss Tree with a low-analysis fertilizer such as 8-3-9 or something made for palms, water it thoroughly, and repeat the fertilizing in 60 days. Use a pound of fertiliozer for every inch of trunk diameter, spread out under the edges of the canopy.

    It is important to kill the tamarisk, so the primary tree can survive. Once it is dead, I believe your Silk Floss tree will improve fast.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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    1. Thank you so much Craig. I really appreciate all the knowledgeable advice!

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  19. Craig,

    Thank you so so much for fielding this questions for us on such a beautiful tree. My wife and I moved in to a house that has a fairly new tree planted in the front. We are in Arizona and we recently had a week of freeze warnings. Prior to the freeze the tree had green leaves and now, obviously, they are all brown.

    I wanted to make sure that 1) There was no premananent damage done since they are heary 2) what I should do next to make sure I can nurture it going forward.

    The tree is about 10'-11' tall and about 7"-8" in diameter.

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    1. Greetings, I am afraid that I cannot give you much information about your tree in Arizona, but from my experiences in northern Florida I can say that the trees are really durable.

      The tree will defoliate fast in cold weather, and grow new leaves again when the weather warms up. I would not do anything to it right now to "make" it grow new leaves; it is better to wait until early March to resume watering to encourage the tree to re-leaf. Northern Florida experiences cold weather for a week or more near freezing, and the trees have survived, but were smaller when the warm weather comes back.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Poinecrest Gardens

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  20. I have a over 40 year old tree that we are taking out because of the root damage. I am wondering if the wood from this tree can be used as firewood.

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  21. Good morning Mary Craig, I believe you could indeed use Chorisia as firewood, but I'd be nervous about the thorns as it was loaded onto the fireplace or firepit. In the event the wood decided to split in the heat of the fire, the thorns might be a problem. As an outdoor firewood source, the logs should be OK; I don't know of any resin or other parts of the wood that might cause irritating smoke. I'd suggest caution on the first try; try just one log and see what happens.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  22. Hi Craig,
    I have a 18 year old tree I grew from a seed obtained in Los Angles. I am in Northern California (Sacramento area). Periodic freezes kill off small branches and twigs, but the tree seems to rebound well. The tree is doing quite well and has been flowering for the past 7 years, however, my tree has not produced any seed pods. Should it be producing pods?
    Thank you!
    Curtis

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  23. Hi Craig,
    I have a 18 year old tree I grew from a seed obtained in Los Angles. I am in Northern California (Sacramento area). Periodic freezes kill off small branches and twigs, but the tree seems to rebound well. The tree is doing quite well and has been flowering for the past 7 years, however, my tree has not produced any seed pods. Should it be producing pods?
    Thank you!
    Curtis

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  24. Hello Curtis- I have not encountered this problem before. The only reason I can think of why your tree does not produce seed pods is a lack of pollinators, which are usually bees. You might try an old fruit grower's trick when your tree produces flowers: find some partially rotten fruit that has been on the ground for a week or more, then tie the rotten fruit near the flowers. In many cases, the rotten fruit has small beetles in it or ants or other small insects which may pollinate the Chorisia flowers. Hopefully the timing works out so that there might be some fruit available in your area when your tree has flowers on it.

    Good luck,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  25. Hi Craig,

    We have two 30 year-old silk floss trees in our front yard and one in the back. For the past several years they have produced pods and floss that wild parrots like to peck at.

    Our neighbor contacted us recently and said she thinks she is allergic to the floss, and would we mind if her gardeners cut off the pods before they bloomed. I’m not against this necessarily, and it would avoid all that floss getting over everything.

    However, would such pruning do any damage to the tree or affect it in any way?

    Thanks.

    Richard
    Santa Monica, CA

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    1. As a followup, the tree pods and floss were pruned at the end of April and it is now mid-August. They are still flourishing, and if anything have more greenery than before. Seems to have worked fine in this case.

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  26. Hi Craig - I am a contractor on the Central Coast of California and we had to cut the roots on one side of a huge silk floss tree. These were large surface roots encroaching on a sidewalk. The tree has lost a good
    amount of leaves mostly from the top of the tree. It is obviously stressing.
    I am just concerned it won't survive. Any advice?

    Thank you

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    1. Good day- The tree will likely survive; they can withstand a lot of damage and still live. It would be wise to remove some of the extraneous interior branches and cut back the tree by 20% overall to reduce evaporation losses brought on by the root pruning.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  27. I have had my tree for well over 10 yrs, it certainly does not equate to another tree in the vicinity, some years few leaves, some years no flowers at all, this past year I dumped a lot of chemical fertilizer into the roots and had the most flowers ever as well as seed pods which are absolutely the most fascinating. I am keeping the seeds from the first pod to burst waiting for the others which are probably another 6. I hope I can get them to germinate next spring. This year it still is pretty scrawny for leaves which is about normal for this tree. The flowers do not equate to the pictures but they are lovely when they do bloom.

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  28. Hi Craig; I have a silk floss tree that seems to have a bug eating on it. I purchsed a 12+ tree and planted lt last fall. It gave nice leaves this spring, but now looks rough and raggedy and smaller leaves than when new. I can not see anything eating on them. What treament do you suggest?

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  29. Do you know of a way to prevent the seed pods from forming they are a headache

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    1. Hi Victoria- the seed pods are a result of bees or other insects pollinating the tree, and I would not recommend you eliminate the pollinators.

      The easiest option I could suggest would be to trim off the seed pods before the mature. We do this with some palm species, where the seeds can be a nuisance around pool decks or in public areas. We cut off the immature seed heads and it has worked well for us.

      Good luck,
      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  30. Hi Craig.

    I have some silk floss seedlings, and would like to plant one in my yard. Because of two large oaks I don't have enough space for another large tree. Would I be able to keep a silk floss tree trimmed to below 20'? What about potted, maybe as bonsai? Would they flower being "controlled" like that?
    Thank you.

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  31. Greetings...yes you can grow a silk floss tree at the 20' level without trouble. There are grafted varieties which stay shorter than the "usual" tall types. As for growing it as a Bonsai, it could work, especially if you chose a very large bonsai pan (over 24" long). I have not seen this species grown as a Bonsai, but it would be a beautiful specimen if the tree allowed the culture. Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  32. Hi Craig;

    I completed the landscaping at my new home in Duarte, CA. I had a 12 foot silk floss tree added to the center of my lawn, as I had seen them growing in the park at the bottom of our hill. I also have sweet william planted in the bed around it. The soil here is well drained, but the tree is 8' from the house and 12' from the sidewalk.

    The tree has been there just over a year. This summer, I have had several of the branches die and now all the remaining leaves are brown around the edges.

    It is the hottest and driest part of the year (August through September). I have upped the watering of the lawn as not to loose it. 5 minutes twice a day.

    Have I just chosen the wrong tree for where I have it or is this part of the tree taking a while to settle? Hoping it is the latter!!

    Thanks so much for any help!

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  33. Greetings- it sounds like the tree is going through some transplant shock. Discerning the reason for the problem may take a few questions. Was the tree a containerized or boxed tree when it was installed; or was it grown in a field nursery and dug up ? If it was dug up from the field, it's showing transplant shock, and needs deep watering every few days to encourage rooting. If it was potted / boxed, it may only need watering every 5-7 days to establish the tree. In either case, keep up a deep-watering regime for the next 2 months to get the tree back on track.

    5 minutes of water twice a day won't be enough for a tree that size. Most sprinkler systems are inadequate for tree establishment. A ring of irrigation drip line or soaker hose will help a lot; run it for an hour or more to deep-soak the roots system. If that isn't available, use a "bucket" drench". The tree would need about 30 or more gallons of water to penetrate the soil enough to soak all the roots. Consider using an old trick to boost the tree into better health: fill a 30-35 gallon garbage can within a foot of the tree. Add 2 or 3 ounces of a mild, non-grease-cutting dish detergent such as Ivory or Palmolive ( not something like Ajax or Dawn) in the last few gallons of the filling process. Stir the mix thoroughly. Pour the mix onto the roots of the tree slowy to allow the water to penetrate the soil and not run off into the grass or flower beds nearby. If you don't already have one around the tree, build a small circular earth "dam" about 2 feet out from the trunk, to hold water. Repeat the process every week for 3 or 4 more weeks; you should see a good response within a month. I also suspect that the Sweet William will suck up the water from the sprinkler system before enough of it reaches the tree's roots, so extra watering will help both plants.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pionecrest Gardens

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  34. Craig,

    Good info you are providing. I ord my C speciosa seeds from Trade Winds
    a few yrs ago and my 15' tree is finally blooming w/ pink flowers, although I live in extreme NW FL, which I winter protect. Which variety produces the red flowers at the very top of the page?
    Thanks!

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    1. Good morning- the variety at the top of the blog is likely a variety called 'Tem', from Brazil. It isn't actually red, more of a deep lavender-almost-maroon color. I don't know if it sets seed, since some of the really great colors are sterile triploids. BUT....you could contact Richard Lyons at www.rarefloweringtrees.com, and see what he can do for you. He has a wide variety of Chorisias, and may be able to source some seeds for you. He may be able to ship a small grafted plant, too. His phone number is 305-905-1801. Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  35. Craig,

    Thanks for replying. I worry about a grafted plant in the Panhandle, if a freeze killed it below the bud union, although I do winter protect with a neoprene wrap. Are there any benefits to a grafted specimen, as mine on its own roots has flourished?
    Glenn

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    1. Hi Glenn- the main reason to use grafted plants is that the trees don't often come true to type when grown from seed. The rootstock and budstock are equally cold-hardy, so I don't think you should worry about one or the other freezing. If you like a particular variety of Chorisia, as with any fruit tree or numerous flowering trees, grafted plants will guarantee that you get the plant you want. Also, grafted plants often show more vigor than a seedling variety, bloom earlier in their life, and often start to bloom at a shorter height than seedlings do. Furthermore, some of the most richly colored forms are definitely NOT true to seed, leading me to believe that some of the color strains are recessive in their breeding. This would translate to the end result that an open-pollinated plant, using a richly colored form as one parent and the "usual" type light pink as the other parent may result in a lot of seedings that would bloom with the "vigorous" pink color, and only a few that showed the more intense colors.

      There isn't much local research to back up the theory, but it is often the case in flowering plants, especially orchids. The really improved flower forms, regarding color and shape, often have different genetics, sometimes in such a way that they don't breed and set seed as well. Grafting Chorisias is the way to go for certainty of color and shape. If not, then seedlings will give you the speed and growth you may need in a sub-optimal climate.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  36. Craig,
    Our silk floss is 40 to 50 years old. Last year we noticed that the bark on the larger branches were splitting where they were attached to the trunk. We had the tree trimmed but this a lot of the branches are dying and the tree is oozing sap in a lot of places.
    Thx,
    Al in So Cal.

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    1. Wow....seems to be a lot of problems at the same time. When branches start to split at their attachment point, it's common that the reason is climatic rather than a disease; perhaps there was a prolonged drought followed by some measurable rain or vice versa. Palms often show this malady, for similar reasons. The oozing spots on the trunk are more troublesome, and I'd suspect some insects are the culprit.. If you can, track down your local University Extension Service; there 's usually an office in your region or county. They would have far better ideas and history and experiences with such trees in your climate than I would here in the wet sub-tropics. Thanks for contacting me, and I hope to hear good news about your tree in the future.

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  37. What can these silk floss trees be gafted to? Also, what time of year works best for grafting?

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  38. Silk Floss trees are grafted onto seedling silk floss trees, much the same way as mango or avocado trees are grafted onto seedlings of the same genus. In most cases, the seedling is a very strong growing type or "wild" type, but which may not have have the desirable flower or fruit characteristics you choose, other than vigor. The desirable color-types may be weak growers or may not have really strong roots, therefore they are grafted on to strong seedlings. Grafted trees often show more vigor and flower or fruit earlier in their cultivation cycle than a seedling plant would, since mature branch tips are used as the grafting stock.

    Furthermore, grafting is often used to produce large quantities of predictable / same genetic type trees, so that a named cultivar can be produced and sold as true-to-type in large quantities. Grafting is usually done in March-April, when new growth is produced.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  39. Hi Craig,
    I planted a silk floss tree last November, 2012. It seems to be quite happy in it's spot and has new growth. It did not flower this year. Any idea how long it takes to establish well enuogh to flower?? The trunk is about 6" or 7".
    Kathy

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    1. Hi Kathy- the tree should have flowered by now, but I recall that we had to wait over 2 years for our transplanted trees to establish before they flowered. Also, fertilize the trees lightly, try to keep turf grass away from the trunks, and water the trees only once per week at the most. The species is well suited to dry climates.
      One of the tricks to getting the trees to flower really well is to stop watering them in early October, and let the trees run dry through the winter. This is their natural dormant period, and they are well adapted to such conditions, once the trees are established. Continue your normal maintenance through this winter, then dry the trees off in October 2014, if possible. You should see a good flowering response.

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  40. Do you know how many years does the silk floss tree needs to start blooming for the first time. I have one, is about 10 or 12 feet tall, 3 or 4 years old, and has never bloomed. Thanks

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    1. Hi Marcelo- Good question ! We've had to wait as much as 4 years after planting trees for them to flower. 12 feet of height should be the beginning of their matuity phase, and should flower in the next year. One important tactic to use in getting this tree to flower itsbest is to make sure the trees go quite dry after September, if possible. They need to go dormant in order to switch from growth mode to flowering mode. We usually turn off the irrigation near our trees after September 1st, and let Nature take its course.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  41. my silk floss tree is beautiful huge, but dosent produce the seed pods whats wrong??

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  42. My silk floss trees recently seeded and I tracked down the huge balls of fluff and picked out seeds. Can you give me any advice on germination? (I'm also trying to germinate some schizolobium seeds and if you have any expertise in that area as well, I'd appreciate any advice on that one as well) Thanks in advance.

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    1. Good morning Robert- Germinating the seeds is quite easy, and the technique would work as well for the Schizolobium as well. Use a sterile potting mix suitable for African Violets or cactus, usually available at your favorite big-box home improvement store. Use a fairly large, sterile pot, 8" or 10" size should do fine. Surface sterilize the seeds by soaking them in hydrogen peroxide for 5 seconds, then plant the seeds about 1/2" deep into the soil mix. Put the pot into as much sunlight as possible, keep the pot warm ( not sure where you live), at least 75F, and you should see germination within 4-6 weeks. The seedlings of both trees grow extremely fast; in Miami, about 8" per month. Once the seedlings are a foot tall, transplant to individual pots of sandy soil and keep them in all day sunlight, or as much as you give them. The Schizolbium get rather tall, and traditionally have few, -if any-, branches. They can be 30 feet tall here in just a few years, and are quite brittle, so plant them in low-wind or wind protected areas.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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    2. Craig, thanks for the advice. I live in the suburbs of San Diego, so temp is not a problem. I've heard some folks say to scar the seed and soak them, then plant. You're saying not to do this? Just double checking and thanks again for your time.

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  43. Hi Robert- yes, you can soak the seeds overnight in warm water to soften up the seed coat, or scrape one edge of the seeds with a nail file until you see the white endosperm underneath. We haven't found it necessary, since the seeds sprouts fast, but you might likely have cooler temps out there than we do here in the winter. One things is needed though: warm soil is most important to seed germination than anything else I can think of.

    Good luck !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  44. Hi Craig,

    I have recently purchased 70 Silk floss tree seeds and a germination tray with a moisture mat, a reservoir, 72 growth cubes instead of soil and a dome to keep in moisture. My question is how often must I have to water these seeds and can I keep them in the sun? Also, do you have any additional tips about when to add the nutrients the kit came with? Thank you.

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    1. I don't believe you'll need the dome, and yes, you can keep them in the sun. Keep the seeds lightly moist, and they should sprout within a few weeks.

      Good luck !

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  45. I planted a silk floss tree from seed less than a year ago. It is now 18 inches tall; strong trunk and was leafing out nicely. Now something is eating the leaves. Will this problem resolve itself or must I spray? What should I use?

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    1. Greetings- very likely the problem will resolve by itself, and the tree will re-leaf after the problem disappears. Whatever is eating the foliage is likely temporary, unless the problems is snails. Snails tend to persist in the area as long as there is a food source. It would be very helpful to know what is eating the leaves. If you can, check the foliage a few hours after dark; you may see the culprit. It would be difficult to recommend a resolution without knowing the offender or even what part of the country you are growing the plant.

      best regards,

      Craig Morell
      Pinecrest Gardens

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  46. Hi Craig, im from New Zealand and have a large silk floss in flower now, unfortunately it overshadows our house and this time of year we lose the sun very early, the trunk is approx 2.5' in diameter, id like to reduce the trees size by at least 1/3 doing this it will lose all of its foliage, my question is will it survive such a dramatic prune

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  47. Good day Simon- yes, you can prune a Silk Floss tree by 1/3, and the tree should recover nicely on its next growth season. The trees are quite robust, and should rebound well, with even more flowers than before you pruned it.

    Good luck,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  48. Hi Craig,
    I have about 50 floss trees about 3 years old in 7 gallon containers. I live in Aptos CA in the "banana belt" where it never freezes. I want to transplant them into 2x2 wooden box containers and sell them to folks in the nearby area. They are healthy and vigorous, about 6-8' tall. Any idea what I should ask? Are deer a problem? Thanks,
    Greg

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  49. Hello Craig,
    I live in Vero Beach about 10 miles west of the coast. I have 6 silk floss saplings nearly a foot in height that I grew from seeds. My question for you is about when and how to put them in the ground. How tall before I plant them in my yard and how deep to put them? Any and all info will be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Peter

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  50. Hi Peter, I would suggest waiting to plant them until this time next year; even through they will likely do OK, we're a bit late to plant such small plants. To answer your questions directly, I'd plant the trees when they are 4-5' tall, larger is better. Although they can tolerate considerable cold after they establish, larger trees root faster and tolerate cold dry winds better than small ones do. Plant the trees so that the surface of the potting soil is level with the native soil. Place 1/2 cup of Dynamite 13-13-13- fertilizer and 1/2 cup of bone meal in the planting hole, then plant the tree, water heavily after planting, and watch the tree take off. The best planting season is late March / early April. The trees grow quite fast, and should grow 2-3 feet annually the first several years, likely to flower in years 4 or 5. Let the tree go totally dry in the winter months, and it should respond nicely with flowers in late September / early October. Fertilize it with Bougainvillea fertilizer, and the tree should grow beautifully.

    Good growing !

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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    1. Craig,
      Thank you so much. I will hold off on planting. Have a wonderful summer.

      Peter

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  51. I planted a silk floss tree this past spring and it's been doing just ok. Just a few new leaves here and there, but I've been concerned recently since I've noticed that the trunk of the tree has started to turn yellow from the base and going up to about almost a foot. What's causing this? too much water? too little water? need fertilizer?

    I live in Arizona by the way, if that helps.

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  52. Craig,
    I recently planted a silk floss tree in my front yard. Shortly after we planted it, we had a bad freeze. It lost its leaves and the branches were bare and dry. We decided to cut away some of the branches and to our pleasant surprise new branches grew in late winter. We have been having an awful heat wave in southern California and my husband has been consistently watering the tree each night. The leaves are started to yellow on the edges and brown. I am not sure if this is because it is being over watered or under watered. Like I said it has been insanely hot and dry here. We have sprinklers that water the grass around it but nothing directly to the base of the tree. When we water it, the soil seems to absorb the water quickly but I am concerned about the leaves turning yellow or brown. We would much appreciate your thoughts.
    Thank you

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  53. I have a pink flowering tree, the Charisia. It's healthy looking but it has not bloomed in the two years I've had it. Do you know why it hasn't bloomed?

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  54. I have a 20 year old silk floss that I planted from a seed. I wanted to know if it can be topped and sides trimmed to keep the height and width under control.

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  55. Ciao Craig,
    first of all, thank you for your precious advices! If only I had discovered your blog before... Now, I live in Rome, Italy (9a) and my Chorisia Speciosa (Matilde) is 11 feet tall (main branches) and almost 1ft. diameter. She needs heavy pruning (smaller limbs reach up to 15') but I don't understand when to do it. Always if you can, could you please translate the correct moment of the year into temperatures instead of months or seasons? We have wet and cold winters which I believe are very different from Florida. I mean, I should prune her when temperatures reach 15°C? 20°C 25°C??
    Trimmed branches could be used as cuttings in the very same days?
    When do I have to feed her with fertilizers and which NPK concentration you suggest to help her bloom? She is very healthy but has never bloomed yet.
    Any info will be much appreciated!
    Ciao e grazie
    Buona giornata,
    Alessandro

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  56. Greetings Alessandro, thank you for your response to the blog. I have received more comments about Silk Floss trees than any other of the 200 blogs I wrote so far. You can prune a Chorisia tree anytime you wish, but the best time to prune is about 4 weeks before the tree starts to grow its new leaves for the year. The tree is more responsive to daylength, which is why I focus on months of the year more than just temperatures. The trees will grow or go dormant based on daylength. In South Florida, the tree grows new leaves in March and April as the daylength increases. The temperature is not so important as the time of year; prune just before new leaves grow out, to allow the tree to grow for as long as possible in the year before Autumn arrives to stop its growth. My suggestion would be prune in March or April, when the day temperatures are regularly above 20 C. Trimmed branches can be used as cuttings the same day, and would benefit from the use of a rooting hormone. There are many products on the market, and almost any of them would work well, but choosing a product containing NAA ( used to root woody plant tissue as opposed to soft plant tissue) would be best. Fertilize the tree in May, and a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 with at least 2% soluble iron, 2% magnesium and 1% manganese will give you a nice, solid tree growth and good flowering. The numbers can vary slightly, but the even balance of N,P,and K are important, rather than use a grass fertilizer such as 22-3-11, or a banana fertilizer such as 0-0-30. Our usual recommendation is to use 500 grams of fertilizer per 3 centimeters of trunk diameter spread under the tree canopy, applied in May and again in late August. As the fertilizer becomes depleted, the tree will go dormant seasonally as the daylength shortens. The lack of fertilizer and shorter daylength in October usually initiates flowering. We allow our trees to go without supplemental irrigation starting in September to facilitate dormancy and use the stored food reserves to produce flowers in October, then rest through the short days to produce new foliage in March and April.

    I hope this helps in your needs, and many thanks again for your interest in the Plant Guy blog.

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  57. Grazie Maestro! (and from now on also Matilde's Stepfather!)
    I'll follow thoroughly your helpful advices.

    Always if they will survive to this cold winter, I shall have some more questions about Delonix Regia's care (and Jacaranda's care)

    Many thanks
    Best regards,
    Alessandro

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  58. Prego ! I will gladly answer questions about your Delonix and Jacaranda when you are ready, both of which seem to enjoy a little cool weather to produce good blooms.

    Best regards,

    Craig Morell
    Pinecrest Gardens

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  59. I have a large chordio tree that we played young many years ago. Has grown into a large spectacular tree. Recently a very large branch & a smaller one have broken off. Wood always seemed wet but now so see it very dry at the breaks. Live in Los Angeles. Worried about tree dying & of course, more branches breaking off & causing damage to neighbors & my house. Going to have it trimmed of large branches. I see that some of the branches are turning yellow on the top sides. Am I losing my tree? Never needed to water it much but now doing so more in hopes to save it. It is on a hillside do gets plenty of drainage. At a loss here. Any ideas or recommendations? Thank you.

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  60. Sorry about the misspelled words there. Chorisio tree.

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  61. I have one of these trees in my back yard. It is almost 25 years old and I love it. However it is breaking the concrete walls on either side of it. Is there some way the roots can be trimmed back without damaging the tree. Any help would be appreciated.

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  62. HI Craig!

    I have four 28 year old chorisia's that I grew from seed :-)

    I recently sold my place and the new owner wants to top them to encourage growth lower down the trunk. I have no idea why he wants to do this and don't think it's a good idea for the tree.

    What do you think about topping chorisias?

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  63. Hi the top of our floss silk tree was cut diagonally. We have had it in the ground for several years and the lower branches produce some flowers. The top looks like old dead wood. How do I get the dead wood top off and get the tree to grow a new main top? Kind Regards,
    Roxanne
    Androcks@cox.net

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  64. I gave a silk floss tree to my parents and I didn't know until after they did it, but they knocked all the thorns off with a hammer because they were afraid of the dog and grandkids running into it. Will the tree be ok and still grow to flower?

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  65. Hello. I live in the Redland (Homestead, Florida) area and I planted a Chorisia Speciosa in my yard about 8-9 years ago. It does not have full sun since it has a gumbo limbo, australian ferns, a variety of palm trees, and several longan fruit trees surrounding it. After many years, the tree has finally started to show some growth. However, it does not flower, nor has it ever flowered. I purchased the tree after having seen it and falling in love with its blooms. I was wondering if the tree does not flower due to its immaturity or lack of water, fertilizer, or sun? Any assistance that you can provide me with would be most greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!!

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  66. I'm in Phoenix. Should I still turn off the water between September and October when we will still be in the triple digits? I have a few seeds that sprouted easily and now are about a foot tall. I need time before planting due to moving reasons. How long do you think I can keep them in a pot (I have some 30 gallon nursery pots) before they really need to go in the ground.

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  67. Hello, I live in Minneapolis. I would like to top off my healthy C. speciosa. My ceiling is about 9.5ft tall and the plant is around 11-12ft. I have a branch a little lower than the area in which I would like to take the cutting. Can the cutting be rooted for a new plant? If so, How? I bought the plant from a nursery in Houston, TX about twenty five years ago. I really enjoy this plant.It grows like mad in a clay pot outside in the summer and then goes sue-do dormant inside for the winter. I would like to keep it for many more seasons.
    Thanks,Kevin

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  68. Hi Craig. I live in south west Turkey. I have been growing two floss trees from seed in post for the past 18 months. The climate here varies f true on just above freezing in winter to high 90s in summer. I kept the two saplings in over last winter but theyve been outside and apparently thriving in summer. Now they are about one foot tall. The weather is n ok w cooling to around 70 max intercooler at night. After a sudden with d the other night the saplings are suddenly s shedding leaves. Any suggestions? Should I b f2f ing them indoors for winter and if so what should the watering regime be. Thank you

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    1. The floss trees do shed their leaves every year. That is normal.

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    2. Thank you Bob. I was concerned because these two look so fragile at between 12 and 15 inches tall.

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    3. I live in southern California USA, and the climate here is exactly the same as yours.

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    4. So do you suggest they stay outdoors all winter? It can get pretty wet and temperatures close to freezing in January/february. But otherwise often sunny and quite mild. Can be windy though. Do they need much water in winter? Sorry to bother you with these questions but I am new to this activity. Many thanks

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    5. No, they are too young to be outdoors during winter. If you have a place indoors that they can get some sunlight that would be best. A little water would also be good. I have a small portable green house I kept mine in during the winter when they were small. Mine are now 6 feet tall so they do stay outside all winter, next to the house to protect them from the wind and chill. I have two silk floss in my yard, that i grew from seeds, and are 20 years old and are beautiful in full bloom. I enjoy sharing my experience with others!

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    6. Thank you Bob for your advice. I know just the place to put them where they will get enough sunlight. I shall bring them inside and keep an eye on them during the winter months. I first saw silk floss trees on a visit to Sicily last year and tracked down some seeds. It is a bit of a mission for me to grown them here. I am so grateful for your sharing your experience with me. Thank you once again.

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    7. The silk floss originally came from Australia and are drought tolerant. They love well drained soil and warm climate. In a pot I use cactus mix because it gives them the right nutrients and it doesn't keep the roots soaking in water. Good luck and ENJOY!

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  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  70. Hi . I recently lost a tall silk floss tree due to a hurricane. The stump is still in the ground. Is there a chance that new shoots will sprout from this old stump?

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  71. Chosisia speciosa in native the Brazil and parts of Argentina is what I've always heard.

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  72. My silkfir tree leaves have holes in them what insect could this be help pz

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  73. I have a 2 year old plant in a lot currently. We move around for work and the plant comes with me, my question is , how cold is too cold? I don't mind bringing it inside but I would love to not worry about it. Once we moved from California to Mississippi, it grew almost a foot in a month and looked so healthy. Now that it is winter time the leaves have all fallen off but the trunk is still green and has a few thorns. We are moving to Pennsylvania in a week or so, is there anything I need to know for the move? Thank you in advanced.

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  74. Hello Cassy! I am very familiar with Pennsylvania weather, and it gets too cold for Silk Floss trees! It will have to come indoors by a light source. It is native to Australia and the temperature almost never reaches 32 degrees F, or freezing. Pa. gets well below freezing and probably would kill it outdoors. Silkfloss love the heat, and humidity it a plus also!
    Your welcome, Bob

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  75. I live in Texas and have a four year old silk floss that was doing well and grew about 2.5 feet over the summer but now after a hard freez the top 4 feet of the tree looks like it died and looks dry. The bottom part of tree that that still looks green has started to sprout new growth my question is it safe to cut the top dead part of the tree? When should I cut it if it's safe ?

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  76. Can anyone tell me if the roots grow down or out sideways? I want to buy one, but I want to make sure that it will not destroy my driveway, plumbing, or Foundation.

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    1. The roots do grow sideways if they are not watered deeply.

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  77. Thanks for your advice on this tree. I just bought one and am considering planting it beach side in Daytona. Do you know if it is salt tolerant?

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    1. It likes hot climate and would like the beach weather in warm climates like Florida. High winds might be a problem to think about. If protected from direct high winds it should be fine!

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  78. Does anyone knows where to buy this tree in southern California? Thanks!

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