|Dombeya wallichii subsp. var.||Pink Ball Tree|
Dombeya wallichii, Benth. & Hook. (Astrapaea Wallichii, Lindl.) is a fast growing shrub or small tree with a very showy bloom that can be grown as a large shrub as well. As a tree it can grow to 8 m in height but can be kept smaller by trimming. The velvety leaves are evergreen, 16-20 cm long and 15-25 cm broad, with a 7-17 cm petiole. It looses its leaves in the winter only if the temperature falls below freezing. The pink flowers are fragrant and come at the beginning of the year, lasting for over 1 month. The flowers are about 3 cm across and can have bracts up to 6 cm long and 5 cm broad. They have drooping umbels, with the peduncles long and hairyCH.
Dombeya wallichii is very low maintenance. It is a vigorous grower but needs protection from heavy frost and temperatures below freezing. After a light frost the leaves take on a bronze color. The plant grows best in sun with regular weekly or bi-weekly water in summer once it is established, though it is reported to be somewhat drought tolerant. It is not salt tolerant and may need occasional deep watering to flush away the built-up salts in years when winter rainfall is below normal. Fertilize plants shortly after transplanting with a water soluble product according to the label directions. Once established, the plants are very easy to grow and do not need a regular fertilization, though they may appreciate it.
It is a strong grower and even though it is possible to grow it in a container for many years, it will perform better in the ground.
Old flowers remain a long time, and should be removed to keep a neat appearance. Trimming should be done after the flowers are gone in the spring until mid September. It can be trimmed as far back as necessary without harming the tree.
Pull down on 10 inch new shoots growing off of the trunk of the plant, tearing them off with a bit of the trunk. Cut off all but the top couple of leaves. Place in a glass full with about 6 inches of water, in a warm but not hot spot, with bright light but no direct sunlight. Keep the water level topped off to 6 inches as it evaporates. Many of the shoots will form white 'crystals' then roots will come out of those, at which point it should be planted in a potting mix that retains some moisture but drains very well and does not stay wet, still out of the sun. After a couple of larger leaves grow, the new plants can be hardened and planted.
Pests and diseases
These plants occasionally get aphids that may need to be controlled, but it is overall disease free.
Dombeya wallichii and a hybrid of D. wallichii crossed with D. burgessiae that is called Dombeya x cayeuxii are often confused as D. wallichii. The two are very similar but differin that D. x cayeuxii has three lobed leaves