- Author: Norman Smith
Wrong Place to Plant Beautiful Tree
Wow, the Jacaranda's are beautiful right now (actually most may be on their downhill side). As you drive around town they are easy to spot with their striking purple flowers covering the entire tree. I have noticed that they do vary in how they bloom. Some trees seem to flower before putting on any leaves, while others tend to flower and put on leaves simultaneously, those flowers occurring more in bunches. They are both attractive, but I think those trees that just contain the flowers with no leaves are more striking.
But, they do have their downside. One thing that you don't want to do, is to plant them over a driveway or parking lot or a frequently walked pathway. The constant dropping of flowers is a real nuisance and stains the drive or pathway. Jacaranda flowers also drop large drops of nectar or honeydew on whatever is below them. I speak from experience as I have a Jacaranda planted over my driveway (planted by my homeowners association so I am stuck with it).
My truck is constantly covered in dropped flowers or leaves at certain times of the year, and I don't think I will ever get the discoloration from crushed flowers and nectar out of my driveway pavers.
Jacarandas can also get insect problems. This year, just as the flowers were beginning to push, my truck began to get covered with a fine mist of honeydew. After a few days it got so bad that I could not see out the front windshield, and wherever I touched my truck it was sticky. This was different from the larger drops of nectar that the flowers produce. This was due to aphids. It took a while, but I did eventually find what was causing it - masses of aphids feeding on the flower stems of some of the bunches. About this time, I began to see an increase in lady bugs around the tree, and of course Argentine Ants were thoroughly enjoying the bounty of honeydew. Perhaps eventually, though not quickly enough for me, the lady bugs would have brought the aphids under control. But I think what did control them was the hot spell in the middle of June. Those few days over 100 took their toll of the aphids and they weren't much trouble after that. Oh yes, I do live in San Luis Obispo.
So, from a distance, Jacarandas are beautiful, and definitely have their place in our landscapes in San Luis Obispo County. But plant them away from high traffic situations, either walking or driving, and you will likely be much happier with them.