Bauhinia purpurea - Hong Kong Orchid Tree
This vibrant purple Bauhinia is the perfect focal point for most gardens. In late winter, large magenta blooms cover the tree, completely hiding the heart-shaped foliage which is handsome in its own right. This small tree that grows to about 20', it has a pleasing umbrella shape.
An old cultivar discovered by missionaries in China in 1908, everyone agrees it's gorgeous. It's the official floral emblem of Hong Kong .
Bauhinia looks exotic, but it's easy to grow. It needs full sun, well-drained soil, appreciates regular water but will tolerate considerable drought. Evergreen in zones 8b to 11, it's hardy to 20-25 degrees, will lose its leaves in cooler climates, but recover if the freeze is not severe. It grows quickly, up to 3' a year. If planted from seed, you can expect blooms in 3-6 years.
In late summer, Bauhinia drops all it's curly pods straight down, easy to clean up if they land on a flat surface. Place it accordingly.
Soak seeds in warm water overnight, sow half an inch deep, keep warm. They'll pop right up.