How to Propagate a Coastal Coral Tree (Erythrina Caffra)

I’ve been noticing over the last year that Mind Your Dirt receives a great many inquiries about the Coastal Coral tree. Two of my articles on the species gets read daily, and often several times per day. This article covers the species as a whole, and this article discusses when and how to prune erythrina caffra.

I’ve often wondered what it is about erythrina caffra that causes so many people to make their way to my humble doorstep in search of answers. The species itself is indeed a beautiful specimen tree with an amazing sweeping short and stout umbrella like canopy, both alien and breathtaking bright red flowers and powerful and very organic flowing trunk and branches. Just see for yourself, I went out hunting for photogenic specimens just for you. You’re welcome.

Coastal Coral Propagation 04_Coastal Coral Balboa Park
A beautiful smaller specimen flanking the Cabrillo bridge in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.
Coastal Coral Propagation 05_Coastal Coral Balboa Park_Trunk Detail
On the opposite side of the Cabrillo bridge in Balboa Park sits another specimen. Here is a detail of the trunk.
Coastal Coral Propagation 03_Coastal Coral Balboa Park_Branching Detail
Off of Park Blvd. alongside Balboa Park. This coastal coral is a detail of the feature image above. A lovely example of that broad, sweeping (yet stout) trunk and branching.

So I can see the interest, but why is so much Interwebish (I know, relax) traffic drawn to this subject? Mind your Dirt offers a plethora of stories of equally amazing species all over it’s back pages. What drives this keen interest to the coastal coral tree?

Then it struck me. Several years ago when I was researching ways to propagate the species online, I had a hell of a time finding solid propagation information. A bit here, a smattering over there; but nothing solid and concise. To quote my past self…

“I scoured The Interwebs for hours looking for cutting propagation techniques. To no avail. Then I stumbled upon a PDF put together by some remote horticultural school in some small farm community somewhere in nowhere USA. The farmers were using coastal coral trees as natural fences and had a technique to quickly propagate large six foot branches! It was absolutely perfect and if I could find it again I’d link it here to give these saviors proper credit.”

Only in this day and age would one consider “scouring for hours” to be any form of extensive research, but if you know how to search effectively it shouldn’t take this long to find info on a relatively well known species. So that’s what I’m here to do; share that seemingly lost information so that it can have a new forever-home on The Interwebs and all you amazing people can begin to grow and love this amazing tree as well! How nice of me huh?

I have tried many different methods for propagation of this species (to grow as bonsai stock). Seeds are perfect, but they take a wee bit longer to achieve a beautiful and stately tree in the yard. I tried taking smaller six inch segments of the new green growth thinking that they would root successfully. I believe I tried about twenty or so of those. All of them rotted into nothingness in short order.

The key is to take larger woody branch sections and allow them to dry out before potting them. Without further adieu, here is how to grow a coastal coral tree…

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Keep Portland Weird: A note from my doctor regarding my writing hiatus

My dearest readers, what can I say about my recent prolonged absence from Mind Your Dirt other than I am sorry? You most likely fall under one of two categories; either you’ve been chomping at the bit for another post, or didn’t even realize I was gone. If it’s the latter, then disregard this post. If it’s the former, a thousand apologies.

You see, I took a small vacation with my lovely lady, her twin sister and her twin sisters’ boyfriend to sunny, warm Portland, Oregon. It actually was both of those things, on the day we arrived it was a blazing 102° with cloudless skies. Not the cool relief from SoCal that I was hoping for. At all.

In fact, I was a bit pissed off by the whole affair and am of the right mind to write Portland a scathing letter! Another shocking discovery was the fact that everything was brown, dry and dead all over the city. It appears that this gods forsaken drought will follow me everywhere I go.

I was assured (by the friends that we were visiting) that it was abnormal and seasonal, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and I found myself, once again, face to face with my inner monologue of “unsustainable!”

I was hoping to find a moist and lush garden oasis to cool my scorched soul a bit before the real heat of the summer hit San Diego. But those first few days afforded me no such luxury. Look how happy we are about it!

Portland Trip_Instagram photo 01

Lovely huh? We decided the best plan of action would be to walk around downtown during the hottest days while our skin blistered and wept; and then save the cooler days walking on forest trails and dipping toes in cool waters. Smart huh? No. It wasn’t. here’s a few lovely city sights…

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