The crista galli or cockspur coral tree–Erithrina crista-galli–is a South American tree that reaches 30 feet. It is grown for it long, drooping clusters of deep red flowers and gives a tropical touch to gardens with minimum temperatures above 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Crista galli can be propagated from seed or cuttings taken from either half-ripe wood or new growth.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Soak the crista galli seeds in warm water for 24 hours prior to sowing in the late spring. Sow the seeds in sterile compost mixed with 50 percent perlite or sharp sand. Leave at least 1 inch between the seeds, and bury them less than 1 inch deep in the compost. Water the container thoroughly and allow all excess water to drain away. Enclose the container inside a transparent or white plastic bag, holding it in place with an elastic band. Place the pot in a warm, bright location until the seeds germinate. Transplant seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle.
Take soft wood or stem cuttings during the spring. Cut through a fresh shoot just below a leaf node, taking a 4-inch to 6-inch cutting. Remove the lower leaves and plant the cutting in sterile compost or vermiculite. Enclose the rooting container with a transparent or white plastic bag, holding it in place with an elastic band. Make several holes in the bag with a pencil to allow some air to circulate. Place the pot in a bright location until new growth shows that it has rooted.
Take half-ripe woody cuttings from your crista galli tree during the late summer or early autumn. Cut through a healthy shoot just below a leaf node, producing a cutting about 4 to 6 inches long. Remove all but the top four leaves from the cutting. Plant the cuttings in sterile potting compost mixed with 50 percent perlite or sharp sand for drainage. Place the pots in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Keep the compost evenly moist.
Pot cuttings as soon as possible and never more than 12 hours after taking them. Dip cuttings in hormone rooting powder prior to planting to increase the chance of them rooting.