How To Keep Poinciana Trees Small

Small poinciana trees look stunning in summer with their brightly colored flowers and with the right care you can grow a small poinciana even if you have limited garden space.

In this article I’ll explain how to choose the right royal poinciana tree for a small garden as well as how to prune and care for poincianas to keep them compact.

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small poinciana tree

Poinciana trees (Delonix regia), also known as flame trees, are large tropical plants that can reach a height of 32 feet (10 metres) or more if you let them grow unchecked.

With regular pruning they make an outstanding feature plant for small gardens and they can be kept to just a few metres in height and spread.

Poincianas grow best in rich, well draining soil in a spot with full sun.

They’re best suited to warm climates but can also be grown in other regions if you have a sheltered spot with protection from the wind and plenty of sunlight throughout the year.

Once established, poinciana trees are drought tolerant (they originated in Madagascar), so there may be times when they need little or no watering (depending on your climate).

Mature royal poinciana trees will produce masses of colourful orange or red flowers during summer. [1]

red poinciana flowers

Dwarf poinciana varieties

Dwarf poincianas are ideal for containers because they stay small without the need for heavy pruning.

They have the same brightly colored flowers as other poincianas, but they grow to a much smaller size than regular varieties.

Nana (Delonix regia ‘Nana’) is a dwarf cultivar that grows about 3 feet (90 cm) tall and wide. It has dark green leaves with maroon undersides.

The Chinese dwarf poinciana (Delonix regia ‘Pygmaea’) is a compact cultivar that grows about 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 3 feet (90 cm) wide. Its leaves are smaller than regular poincianas, with bright red undersides.

Nano (Delonix regia ‘Nano’) is another beautiful dwarf poinciana variety with dark green foliage and bright red undersides.

dwarf poinciana tree

Growing poinciana trees in pots

Potted poinciana trees are ideal for small gardens because they give you the exotic tropical beauty of a full-grown tree in a much smaller package.

Choose a large pot that is at least twice the size of the roots.

Make sure the pot has plenty of drainage holes in the bottom and use high quality potting soil that drains easily.

Caring for container poincianas is fairly easy, just make sure the pot is situated in a bright, sunny spot that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.

You might also like to get a pot stand with wheels so you can move it around to catch the sun.

Poinciana trees are tropical plants that can be damaged by cold weather so you’ll need to move them inside when the temperatures start falling.

If you live in an areas with temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius), plan to keep your potted poinciana tree inside until spring.

Trees grown in containers need repotting at least once a year, preferably in spring.

Use a container that is one size larger than the previous pot.

If you want to increase the amount of flowers, feed your poinciana tree with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus like Bloom Booster Flower Food, to encourage flower production.

small red poinciana

Pruning poinciana trees

The best time to prune poincianas is early spring, before the new growth appears.

In most situations it is best to prune the poinciana tree into a rounded shape while young to maintain its compact size.

As it matures, thin out the branches to keep the tree from becoming too dense and to help restrict its height.

It’s easiest to control the size of a poinciana tree when it’s young, although older trees can be pruned back at any time.

Start by removing any diseased or broken branches and trim them into a neat, compact shape.

Poincianas are susceptible to borer insects when they get too large, so keeping the plant in check with frequent pruning is essential if you want it to live long and stay healthy.

Poinciana trees grown in a container also need to be pruned regularly to maintain a compact size.


So there are my tips for keeping poinciana trees small and compact.

Royal poincianas generally grow into large trees that are way too big for small urban gardens but by following the tips above you’ll be able to grow a healthy, small poinciana tree even if you have limited garden space.

Have you tried growing a poinciana tree in a small backyard garden? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Tracy Darling

    I’ve got a Royal Poinciana that I’ve grown from a seed. He’s about a year old and is getting rather large in his pot. I’d like to keep him under 5ft tall but don’t know the first thing about pruning him. I’m very worried I’d screw up and kill him, which would break my heart.
    Could you point me in the right direction? Maybe some tips?

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Tracy, that’s great that you were able to propagate your plant from seed. It’s a good idea to repot poinciana trees in pots each year and give them a prune in early spring to thin out the branches and keep them tidy. The good thing about growing a poinciana in a pot is that it won’t get too big, so a gentle prune each year is all you need to do.

  2. H. Johns

    Hi I bought a home with a royal Poinciana tree in the back yard. It is way too large for the yard. I was wondering if it’s possible to trim it way back with out destroying it? I would like to keep it but only if it’s a possibility to cut it back and maintain it in a smaller size.

    1. Kelly Martin

      How big is the tree? If you need to prune it back a lot you may need to get some advice from an arborist.

  3. Richard

    I’m thinning a young tree with a 2” trunk after cutting the trunk at 6 feet, it now has a full head of thick leaves and short branches that I keep cutting to keep the head about 30” wide. It’s doing great. I just don’t want it to grow too big. Grew from a seed. I have others that are huge and require pruning quite a bit each year. Any ideas for me. .?

  4. Miss Gina

    I have what I think is royal poinciana that came up in some coleus seeed I ordered. It has a single trunk only about half inch thick. It has grown up fast to a a little 4 feet. pretty leaves starting at about 1 ft to top. should I remove some of lowere leaves? I have it in a large pot and it seems happy. I’m in zone 8 so will bring inside when Temps start dropping.

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