Baja fairy duster plant

Calliandra Species, Desert Fairy Duster, Native Fairy Duster, Pink Fairy Duster

Category:

Shrubs

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Foliage:

Evergreen

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Height:

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

Spacing:

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Danger:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Color:

Pale Pink

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Maricopa, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Hemet, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Angleton, Texas

Austin, Texas

Hico, Texas

Kermit, Texas

Louise, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Wimberley, Texas

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Calliandra Species, Red Fairy Duster, Baja Fairy Duster, Flame Bush

Shrubs

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Full Sun

Evergreen

Unknown – Tell us

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Unknown – Tell us

Unknown – Tell us

Red

Unknown – Tell us

Unknown – Tell us

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Unknown – Tell us

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Non-patented

From woody stem cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

By simple layering

By air layering

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Apache Junction, Arizona

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Maricopa, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona(3 reports)

Cypress, California

Long Beach, California

Perris, California

Red Bluff, California

Reseda, California

San Leandro, California

Spring Valley, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Valley Center, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Wilmington, Delaware

Henderson, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada(2 reports)

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

North Tonawanda, New York

Conway, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Bellaire, Texas

Driftwood, Texas

El Paso, Texas

Houston, Texas

Kermit, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Santa Fe, Texas

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Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)

Colorful flowers, attractive foliage, heat tolerance, and wildlife magnet are just a few of the characteristics that describe Baja Fairy Duster. This Mexican native thrives in desert gardens due to its drought tolerance and ability to handle full sun, reflected heat, and partial shade.

The uniquely shaped flowers of Baja Fairy Duster

Characteristics

One of Baja Fairy Duster’s exciting features is the “feather-duster” shape of the flowers. The blooms occur from spring into fall; in frost-free winters they will continue to flower year long. Their red color attracts hummingbirds, and butterflies use this shrub as both a nectar source and as a larval food plant for caterpillars. In short, if you want to attract wildlife to your garden, Baja Fairy Duster is a must-have.

The foliage is made up of tiny medium-green leaves arranged tightly together, creating a lush green look. This lovely shrub adds an attractive green element to the landscape with splashes of red from the flowers.

Baja Fairy Duster shrub in spring

Size, Hardiness, and Maintenance

Baja Fairy Duster grows to approximately 5 feet tall and wide and is hardy to 20 degrees F. This shrub is ideal for low and mid-altitude desert gardens, in USDA Zone 9, where it looks great all year with little fuss.

Freezing temperatures might result in frost damage on outer branches. Prune back in late spring to remove up to half of its outer growth. No other pruning is needed as long as there is enough room for it to grow to its mature size. Alternatively, you can prune by ‘thinning,’ which allows you to keep the overall height while getting rid of old growth. This can be done by pruning one-third of the branches at the base of the shrub. Resist the temptation to prune into a formal shape and allow Baja Fairy Duster to grow into its attractive, natural growth habit.

Baja Fairy Duster is a great addition to the desert garden

Planting Notes and How to Use It

Plant in soil that drains well and is in full sun or partial shade. Locate Baja Fairy Duster in full sun for maximum flowering.

This large shrub is an excellent choice for use against a wall or fence. I also like to plant it in groups of three and use it to anchor the corner of a property. Pair with desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata), Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubifolia), and Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) to create a butterfly haven.

Pink Fairy Duster

Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) is a close relative, which has pretty pink blooms that appear in spring and fall. It is smaller than its red cousin but is more cold hardy handling temperatures down to 10 degrees F.

Either of these shrubs will add beauty to the desert garden with little fuss.

Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, landscape consultant, certified arborist and garden writer. Also known as ‘AZ Plant Lady’, she’s the author of the popular garden blog, Ramblings From a Desert Garden and received her B.S. in Plant Biology with a concentration in Urban Horticulture from Arizona State University. Originally from California, Noelle now makes her home in the Phoenix area where she helps clients create attractive landscapes focusing on using beautiful, drought tolerant plants that thrive in arid climates. As a garden writer, she contributes to Heirloom Gardener, Houzz, and Phoenix Home & Garden magazine. She is a noted speaker and appears on local television programs focusing on a variety of gardening subjects. When Noelle isn’t writing or helping other people with their landscapes, you’ll find her ‘playing’ in her own desert garden – growing fruits, vegetables, planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.

Connect with Noelle on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Growing Fairy Duster Plants – Care Of Calliandra Fairy Dusters

If you garden in the hot, arid desert, you’ll be happy to hear of the fairy duster plant. In fact, you may already be growing drought tolerant Calliandra fairy dusters for their unusual, puffy blooms and feathery foliage, or to attract a range of birds to the arid desert garden. Growing fairy duster is a perfect choice for this type of climate.

How to Grow a Calliandra Fairy Duster

Three types of the fairy duster plant are native to the Southwestern U.S. These are:

  • Calliandra eriophylla, which is also called False Mesquite
  • Calliandra californica, known as Baja fairy duster
  • Calliandra penninsularis, the La Paz fairy duster

Calliandra fairy dusters are small evergreen shrubs and retain foliage for much of the year. Height and width varies from 1 to 5 feet. The round, furry blooms are generally in shades of white, cream and pink.

Growing fairy duster prefers a sunny area, the hotter the better. The 1- to 2-inch balls of blooms (actually stamens) grow best in full sun. Though the fairy duster plant can take some shade, its flowering performance may be somewhat hindered.

Care of Calliandra is simple; keep plants watered until they’re established and enjoy all the visiting birds.

While the care of Calliandra does not require pruning, growing fairy duster responds well to trimming, which encourages denser and more attractive growth. Take care not to change the interesting vase shape with your cuts.

Birds Attracted to Fairy Duster Plant

Hummingbirds flock to the fairy duster plant, as do wrens, finches and other birds that live in the desert environment. Growing fairy duster rewards the bird watcher with a wealth of feathered friends in their own garden. Be sure to provide water, in a birdbath or other outdoor ornament, to make their stay more pleasant. They will need little other encouragement to return.

The birds seem to be especially attracted to the bean-like pods produced by the growing fairy duster when blooms are spent. You’ll find them gobbling these up, sometimes before the pods burst open and fall to the ground.

Now that you’ve learned how to grow a Calliandra fairy duster, try planting one near a west wall with hot afternoon sun. Or plant one in a sunny spot in the USDA planting zone 8 wildlife garden. Add a water source and watch the variety of birds that come to visit.

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