Toona sinensis 'Flamingo' is an incredible tree with bright pink leaves

Photo of Toona sinensis

I came across this wonderful tree for the first time recently and was so struck by it that I just had to find out more about it. It has had its name changed recently and used to be known as Cedrela sinensis 'Flamingo' and it is also known as Chinese cedar or Chinese magogany.

Toona sinensis 'Flamingo' Garden Guide

Apparently Cedrela trees as they are most commonly known have fallen out of fashion and are rarely seen in European gardens but I really think this should change. I have just visited the Jardins-des-Martels close to Toulouse and they had 2 clumps of the trees in their borders and with the sun shining on the flamingo pink leaves they really did look spectacular.

Cedera tree

If you are worried about having a big block of pink in your garden fear not, the pink only lasts 2-3 weeks and then fades to a creamy-yellow and then green and will fade in with all the other leaf colours. However for those few weeks it will be a focal point and talking point in your garden. The bark has a peeling habit and peels off in long strips.

As well as its early pink leaves it has dangling clusters of white flowers in summer which are fragrant - this tree gets better and better!

Toona sinensis is a suckering tree and so forms a clump of long straight branches up to 12 meters tall and has long whorls of flamingo-pink leaves at regular intervals up its trunk.

If you burn the branches these too are scented and are often burnt in temples in Asia to perfume the temples.

Chinese mahogany

Toona sinensis 'Flamingo' Growing Guide

Toona sinensis likes well-drained soil and a sunny sheltered site. Try to avoid north-facing sites and heavy wet soil and your tree should quickly start growing and sending out suckering roots to form a clump.

It grows quite quickly but can take up to ten years to get to its full height. Once it has started clumping you can keep cutting the taller trees if you wish to keep a smaller size.

If you need to prune in order to keep a simple straight shape then prune after flowering in early summer.

Chinese mahogany is hardy down to about -20 and is generally pest free

Once you have had your tree a few years it should be forming young trees as it suckers from the roots. These can be used to start new clumps elsewhere in your garden or to treat your friends.

To really enjoy a burst of pink for a few weeks in spring why not plant with a Judas tree and/or a magnolia tree. I certainly plan to do this in my garden and be 'pretty in pink' during the month of April/May! Plant near to a purple wisteria and a lovely scent will add to the pleasure.

To see an established clump of these lovely trees go to the Jardins des Martels to the north of Toulouse in south west France.