Red Silk Cotton Tree Care | Growing Bombax ceiba

Last Updated: 19.10.2023

The Red Silk Cotton Trees’ vibrant red flowers and unique fruits make it a captivating presence in any landscape. Here’s how to take care of these plants!

The Red Silk Cotton Tree is a majestic specimen known for its striking appearance and unique characteristics. Its cultural, environmental, and ornamental value contribute to its appeal, attracting admiration from nature enthusiasts and admirers alike!

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Red Silk Cotton Tree Information

Red Silk Cotton Tree
shutterstock/Arshil Saeed

Bombax ceiba, popular as Red Silk Cotton Tree or Kapok tree, is a large deciduous tree belonging to the family Malvaceae. It is native to various regions of the world, including tropical and subtropical areas of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It is found in countries such as India, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America.

Red Silk Cotton Tree is a tall, imposing tree that can reach heights of up to 60 meters (197 feet) in the wild. It has a straight, cylindrical trunk with prominent buttresses at the base that provide stability. The trunk is covered with sharp conical spines, which are more prominent in younger trees. The branches are thick and spreading, forming a large and rounded crown. The leaves are palmate, consisting of five to seven leaflets. During the dry season, the tree sheds its leaves.

One of the notable features of Red Silk Cotton Tree is its striking flowers. Bombax ceiba produces large, showy flowers that are usually red or pink, but can also be white or yellow. The flowers are funnel-shaped and have numerous stamens that give them a fluffy appearance. The blooms are attractive to bees and other pollinators.

After the flowers, Bombax ceiba produces fruits that are oval or oblong in shape. The fruit is a large capsule filled with numerous seeds embedded in a fluffy cotton-like substance. This cotton material is used for various purposes, including stuffing pillows and mattresses, or as a fiber for insulation and buoyancy.

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How to Grow Red Silk Cotton Tree?

shutterstock/Rafael Martos Martins

To grow a Red Silk Cotton Tree from seeds, you can follow these steps:

  • Obtain fresh seeds from a mature Red Silk Cotton Tree. The seeds are typically contained within woody fruit capsules that resemble large pods. Collect the pods when they have matured and started to dry out.
  • After collecting the Bombax ceiba pods, allow them to dry further for a few days. This will make it easier to extract the seeds from the pods.
  • Open the dried pods carefully to reveal the seeds. Remove the seeds from the cotton-like fibers that surround them. It is essential to handle the seeds with care as they are delicate.
  • Fill pots or seed trays with a well-draining potting mix. Plant the Bombax ceiba seeds in the soil at about 1-2 centimeters. Space the seeds adequately, allowing room for each seedling to grow.
  • Place the planted seeds in a warm and bright location, receiving indirect sunlight. Maintain a consistent temperature of around 25-30°C to promote germination. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged throughout the germination process.
  • Once the seedlings have grown to a suitable size, typically with a few sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the ground.

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Requirements to Grow Red Silk Cotton Tree

Red Silk Cotton Tree 3


Red Silk Cotton Trees thrive in full sunlight, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Bombax ceiba prefers bright, open areas without significant shade from surrounding structures or trees.


Bombax ceiba grows best in well-draining soils that are fertile and rich in organic matter. These trees tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, or clay soils.

The soil pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, ideally between 6.0 and 7.5.


Red Silk Cotton Trees require regular watering, particularly during their early stages of growth. Water the tree deeply, ensuring the soil is evenly moist but not soggy.

Providing supplemental irrigation during dry periods is essential to keep the tree hydrated.


These trees are tropical and subtropical in nature, thriving in warm climates. Bombax ceiba prefers temperatures between 20 to 35°C. While they can tolerate brief periods of cooler temperatures, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can harm their growth.

Red Silk Cotton Tree Care

shutterstock/John Bill


You can fertilize the Red Silk Cotton Tree during the growing season with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Do it once in 5-8 weeks. Follow the instructions on the packet.

Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flower production.


Pruning Red Silk Cotton Trees is generally not required, as they are naturally symmetrical. However, pruning can be done in late winter or early spring to remove dead, damaged, or crossing branches.

Pruning should be minimal to preserve the Bombax ceiba‘s natural form.

Pests and Diseases

Red Silk Cotton Trees are generally resilient to pests and diseases. However, they may occasionally encounter aphids, caterpillars, and fungal diseases.

By providing the proper sunlight, well-draining soil, regular watering, suitable temperature, occasional fertilization, and necessary care, you can help ensure the healthy growth and vibrant beauty of your Red Silk Cotton Tree while minimizing the risk of pests and diseases.

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