How to Germinate an African Tulip Tree


The African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) is native to tropical Africa. It is hardy in zones 10B through 11, and can grow to 60 feet tall. This tree needs plenty of room to grow, as its crown can spread to 40 feet wide. The African tulip tree is valued as a landscape plant because it flowers during the winter, when most other flowering plants have become dormant. From winter until late spring, the tree blooms with beautiful flowers of yellow, orange, or red, depending on the cultivar. Growing the tree from seed is not difficult, but germination may be erratic.



Things You’ll Need
  • African tulip tree seeds
  • 6-inch nursery pot
  • Potting soil
  • Sand
  • Clear plastic wrap
  • Garden trowel
    1. Prepare the nursery pot in the spring. Fill the nursery pot with damp potting soil.
    2. Sprinkle the seeds over the damp potting soil. The germination rate is only 30 to 50 percent, so many of the seeds will not sprout.
    3. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of sand. Cover the pot with clear plastic wrap. Keep the pot indoors and out of direct sunlight.
    4. Water the soil just enough to keep it moist during the germination period. The seeds should sprout within 2 to 25 days.
    5. Remove the clear plastic wrap when the seedlings appear. Move the pot outdoors to a sunny location.
    6. Water the soil regularly and do not allow it to dry out. Remove the weaker seedlings as the plants grow, eventually ending up with the strongest, healthiest specimen.
    7. Transplant the young African tulip tree into the ground when it is 14 inches tall. Using a garden trowel, dig a hole the same size as the nursery pot. Transfer the seedling and the soil from the pot into the hole.
    8. Fill in any air spaces around the young tree. Pat down the soil firmly with your hands. Water the soil around the young tree. Continue to water the tree regularly until it has become established.

Tips & Warnings

  • An African tulip tree needs very little care once it is established.

  • The branches of this tree tend to be brittle, and may break off and fall during storms. Pruning is advised to eliminate weak branches.

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