Sydney is home to a great number of Jacaranda trees, and they have become somewhat of an icon here, signalling the impending arrival of summer, and for many, a reminder that exams are imminent. Some streets are covered with a purple carpet, as well as a purple canopy. It is a welcome mess, adding colour and shade, bringing richness to a landscape which consisted of little more than bare branches for the preceding colder months. The Jacaranda heralds summer with a real flair.
The Jacaranda tree grows rather large, so if planting a new one, consideration needs to be made for the space required to allow the new tree to flourish. A Jacaranda can grow the width of a property, so consider your neighbours when selecting your spot. They prefer sandy, well drained soil and the more direct sunshine the better. They grow quite quickly, and in the right conditions, may reach 15 metres in height, and almost the same in width, in less than 20 years. You could expect a tree large enough to cast significant shade in only 5 years.
After planting a Jacaranda sapling in an open spot with sandy soil and full sun, care for it by regular soaking, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Every three years the tree will need to be pruned, being careful to cut away any competing trunks at the base, so as to maintain a strong, single trunk. This should always be done in winter, when the tree is bare.
Pruning should not only remove dead or dying branches, but include shaping the tree for a more attractive canopy. Branches which are crossing at odd angles should be removed. Be careful to cut back to the branch stem, without destroying the branch collar, and never more than one fifth of the tree in total. As the tree grows taller, the lower branches will need to be removed, so that the canopy moves upwards, with the height of the tree.
A good pruning will ensure the tree grows vertically, the trunk remains singular and strong and the weight of the canopy does not split it. The tree should be shaped so that it appears well rounded, and the blooms are free to cover all areas of the tree canopy.
When the Jacaranda grows above 3 metres or so, an experienced arborist should be engaged to do the pruning. With his experience and the right equipment, you can be sure the job will be done safely and your Jacaranda will give you much pleasure for years to come.