The jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is a tropical tree that produces clusters of fragrant purple blooms. Its branches are arched, forming a canopy shaped like an upturned umbrella.
The jacaranda tree makes an excellent shade. It is a fast-growing tree in a tropical environment, gaining about ten feet a year in its first years of life. Its growth rate varies depending on where it's grown, slowing down to a moderate growth rate outside its ideal tropical environment.
Jacaranda trees are a good choice for large outdoor areas in warm climates. They are resistant to pests and diseases and are moderately drought-tolerant (though they require watering during extended dry periods). Hosea Kipng'etich an agronomist based in Kabete explains how to grow this monumental tree.
"For the best blooming, plant your jacaranda tree in the open, where it receives at least six to eight hours of sun per day," says Kipng'etich. Smaller jacaranda trees can tolerate light shade if necessary, but a lack of optimal sunlight can impact the amount and vibrancy of their blooms.
Jacaranda trees do best in well-draining, moderately sandy soil with a slightly acidic Ph level. "It's also tolerant of clay and loamy soils but should not be planted in any mixture that is considered heavy, wet, or not well-draining. Water-logged soil can lead to an increased risk of root rot and mushroom root rot," says Kipng'etich.
As a general rule, water your jacaranda tree when the top three to four inches of soil feels dry. These trees need consistent moisture throughout the year and often require additional watering during drought periods. According to Kipng'etich, "gauging whether your watering is sufficient, poke a finger or water gauge into the ground up to three inches deep, ensuring the water has seeped down to that depth."
"Repeat watering this way once a week, increase to several times a week during intense sun or heat periods. Reduce watering to once a month during the tree's dormant winter months," he says.
Temperature and Humidity
Some jacaranda trees can tolerate occasional cold weather days (as low as negative six degrees celcius), but generally, this species does not thrive in climates with frequent freezing temperatures. This plant prefers heat and humidity but is vulnerable to areas with high temperature.
Feed your jacaranda tree annually with a balanced tree fertiliser. Be careful not to give it too much nitrogen, which can affect flowering.
You should prune young jacaranda trees to form one central trunk for strength and stability. "Avoid pruning beyond that; too much pruning might force it to grow vertical suckers that can distort the tree's shape," says Kipng'etich. Seasonal pruning should be limited to removing only broken, dead, or diseased branches.
The jacaranda tree is susceptible to aphids and the glassy-winged sharpshooter can also infest its leaves. You can manage all of these pests with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Disease rarely affects jacaranda trees; however, insects like the sharpshooter carrying the bacteria Xylella fastidiosa can cause trees to develop bacterial leaf scorch. The bacteria block the tree from getting the water it needs.
There is no cure for the disease, so ultimately, the tree will not likely survive. Trees that do not have properly draining soil can develop mushroom root rot. This disease is caused by a pervasive fungus and has no real cure other than removing the dying plant. To confirm this disease, it appears like an area of the bark has blackened and died. Upon peeling back the dead bark, you'll notice a white fungal growth.
The tree is mainly planted as an avenue plant but the fragrant wood is locally used for tool-handles. The wood is light and slightly fragrant. There are purple to greyish streaks in its tissues, which make the grain attractive.. The branches and stem of the dead and dry trees are used as firewood. The trees, if no longer required on avenues, are converted into timber and used for cheap furniture, ceiling and floor planking. The dried leaves are used in an ointment for healing wounds.