Jacaranda, also known as black poui, is one of the botanical treasures of Central and South Florida. Its graceful, feathery branches and purple blooms make it a show-stopping specimen plant. Like hibiscus and royal poinciana, jacaranda brings a lush, tropical flair to any landscape.
Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) grows as a delicate, deciduous, spreading tree. When properly pruned it forms an artistic, irregular crown, about 25-40 feet tall and 40-60 feet wide at maturity. Its fern-like foliage provides light, dappled shade, perfect for patios. The trumpet-shaped flowers emerge in clusters of lavender, violet, purple, or white. Jacaranda blooms during the spring and summer, usually around May but sometimes as early as April or as late as August.
Jacaranda is a native of South America. Although it is non-native it is not considered a problem species here in Florida. It is well-adapted to USDA Hardiness Zones 9B through 11. It prefers full sun and sandy soil with good drainage. Once established, jacaranda is very drought tolerant, but not salt tolerant.
'Alba' is a white blooming cultivar. Its flowers are sparser, but it blooms for a longer portion of the spring and summer.
Planting and Care
Adding a tree to your landscape is a decision that requires careful consideration. Choose a site with plenty of space for growing roots and enough vertical clearance for the mature tree.
Plant jacaranda in sandy soil and full sun. Young trees will grow quickly and can tolerate light shade. Seedlings take a number of years to bloom. Choose grafted trees or rooted cuttings if you'd prefer not to wait for the tree to mature.
Jacaranda's dappled shade and arching branches make it a perfect canopy for patios and streets. It is deciduous, however, meaning it drops both leaves and flowers yearly. This makes it a poor choice for pool-side plantings. While less messy than royal poinciana, jacaranda does create a significant amount of leaf litter.
Pruning is an important part of the maintenance for this species; trees with poor structure have been known to split. Young trees should be pruned to have single trunk with major limbs spaced apart. To do this, prune off any branches that compete with the leader (the central, highest branch) every three years until the tree is 15-20 years old. As they mature, keep branches less than half the diameter of the trunk. When properly pruned, jacaranda forms a strong, durable structure.
Jacaranda suffers from no major pests in Florida. In wet soils it is prone to root rot; water it only in drought conditions until it is established and then only in drought conditions, if at all. Jacaranda is not listed as being toxic to pets.
For questions about jacaranda and other tropical plants, contact your county Extension office.