The jacaranda tree might only bloom once a year, but it’s a stunning tree for all seasons. Spring to early summer brings a bounty of beautiful lilac blossoms (and hay fever). In late summer, the lush leaves provide cool shade for any person, animal, or plant underneath. Autumn sees a burst of warm colour as the foliage turns, before late winter leaves you with a beautiful silhouette. Then back to spring, and another burst of purple covers its branches.
October to December is a special time, with the flowering jacaranda trees lining roads. You can view the jacarandas in many places around Australia — and you can even grow one right in your backyard! Here’s a guide for how to grow a jacaranda tree, whether from seed or seedling.
About Jacaranda Trees
The jacaranda tree (or jacaranda mimosifolia) has existed in Australia for over 150 years, but it is actually native to South America. A jacaranda tree is either semi-evergreen or deciduous, depending on the climate it grows in. Also known as a fern tree, black poui, or blue jacaranda, this sub-tropical tree blooms in late spring to early summer with its signature lilac flowers.
Regular j. mimosifolia are not for small gardens — they can grow up to 20m tall, with the average mature height around 7.5–15m. The spread of a jacaranda’s branches reaches anywhere between 4.5–9m. But there is a smaller cultivar called Bonsai Blue that reaches 2.5–3m in height and 2–2.5m wide. So if you have a compact garden, you can still have jacarandas too!
Growing Jacaranda Trees
Jacarandas can grow anywhere with a tropical, subtropical, or mild climate, so long as there is no risk of frost. They can also grow in temperate climates, so long as you pay close attention during winter. In Australia, jacaranda trees are particularly widespread in south-eastern Queensland, but also appear in most other states.
Your jacaranda tree will like heat and humidity, but be careful of scalding or sunburn if the temperature gets too high!
Jacarandas thrive in well-drained, sandy soil with a slightly acidic pH level. They will tolerate clay or loam soils, but nothing that retains plenty of moisture or could be considered heavy. Waterlogged soil increases its risk of root rot or fungal problems — neither of which anyone wants on their plants.
If you want your jacaranda tree to look its blooming best, plant it somewhere it gets full sun — around 6–8 hours of light a day. This way, you’ll get the most vibrant flowers.
The most important thing to consider about planting a full jacaranda tree is the space. The second-most important thing is the tree’s placement. Do not plant near drains, water lines, swimming pools, and paths — the jacaranda tree root system is very vigorous, but is sensitive to fungi and root rot.
If you need help prepping your garden beforehand, or placing your seedlings, it’s best to consult a professional gardening service to attain the best conditions to let your jacaranda tree thrive.
How To Grow A Jacaranda Tree
There are two ways to grow jacarandas, and both are very straightforward! It’s easy to grow a jacaranda tree from seed, but you can also buy a plant from a local nursery to get you started faster.
Planting Jacaranda From Seed
- Pick seed pods directly from the tree when dry (not one from the ground!) then crack open at home.
- Soak the seeds in water for a day, then place them on a soil bed in seedling containers or pots.
- Cover with a thin layer of soil and be sure to keep moist.
- Wait for seeds to sprout — about two to three weeks.
- Transplant when seedlings are 8 months old, then maintain well until established.
- Let your tree grow and flower — jacaranda trees can have life spans up to 50 years!
Propagating Jacaranda From A Nursery Plant
After acquiring your jacaranda seedling, dig a hole in the garden space you’ve allotted for the tree — somewhere with full sun. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide, then carefully transfer the seedling in. Backfill with soil — you can form a mound to guide water away from the tree — and mulch lightly. Follow the rest of the guidelines for jacaranda tree maintenance, then wait for your beautiful tree to grow and display its purple blossoms!
Jacaranda Tree Maintenance
In general, you only need to water a jacaranda tree when the top few inches of soil are dry. Jacaranda trees need consistent moisture, but be sure not to over-water or you’ll risk damaging the roots. Check your jacaranda often during summer — you don’t want it drying out either!
Pruning jacarandas can be difficult, since the tree reacts by sending up vertical shoots instead of the more attractive, spreading canopy. You can prune jacaranda trees while they’re young, but leave a mature jacaranda alone to bloom.
Fertilising and Mulching
It’s important to avoid using fertilisers and mulch that are rich in nitrogen, since this could prevent your tree from flowering. If you’re already fertilising the grass around your jacaranda, there’s no need to feed the tree! But you can layer some mulch around the base — just not too close — to help retain some moisture.
For plants that go well with jacaranda trees, you can opt for trees that thrive in the same conditions, or flowering trees that bloom when the jacaranda has wilted. These include Poinciana trees, orchid trees, and in Sydney, Illawarra flame trees!
For shrubs and ground cover, choose plants that prefer being in the shade to take advantage of the jacaranda’s immense canopy. Crotons, Indian Hawthorns, bromeliads, and Boston ferns go particularly well.
How to grow a jacaranda tree is straightforward, so grab a seed pod or seedling and get planting. Then sit back and enjoy the breathtaking blossoms, and take plenty of photos year after year after year.