Pink Caesalpinia (red bird of paradise), one more try!

grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)June 16, 2013

Hi everyone,

I love "red bird of paradise" (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) which is rightly popular all over the valley. The foliage is great, the blooms are amazing, and it's SO heat and drought tolerant. I love it in the typical/wild red-orange and in the yellow form too (usually labeled as 'Phoenix' or 'Phoenix bird'). Long-time forum members will remember several of us tried the pink form of Caesalpinia pulcherrima with poor results. Well, I'm giving it ONE more try, hah! Hey, you can't win if you don't play.

Here's a pic of it as of this weekend. It's already much larger than any of our previous attempts (which croaked as seedlings in early summer). We'll see how it does long-term, but I thought I'd share this fun little experiment. Wish it luck, hah! Right now it looks like any other red bop (red bird of paradise) seedling. Wilson the tennis ball included to show relative size.

I do build the bulk of my garden with plants that LOVE it here, but it's fun to experiment with 10% or so of the garden, and this is one such experiment. It's already larger than any of my earlier attempts, so we'll see what we see. Expect updates for good or bad! :)

Are you test-driving any new-for-you or new-for-here plants? We'd love to see/hear about it! Happy gardening!

Grant

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richsd

Grant, good luck with that pink bop. I'd appreciate some more variety in that plant's color palate for sure.

As for what we're experimenting with, I have a few to mention.

First, I was in Denver for my nephew's wedding recently and brought back a 'Sparkle' barberry plant that I bought at Walmart. I did this b/c Sunset lists barberry as OK for all zones, so I'm giving it a try (I never see barberry growing in Phx.) Burgundy colors would be a definite benefit in our landscapes. It's been two weeks, so far; I've kept the plant in its pot, in partial shade. It's just sitting still so far :p

My second experiment is this: I have my evap. cooler bleed-off water draining into a big container near my lemon tree (which shows chlorosis symptoms.) When the container is full of water, I add some concentrated sulfuric acid to the water then dump the water on the ground (this is a daily task.) So far, no damage to the lemon tree or my huge oak tree, but no noticeable improvement in the lemon's leaf color. I'm testing how much acid I can add to the water before I see damage to the lemon's leaves. Call me a mad scientist or just mad.. :p

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 2:00PM
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AZGardenQueen

Now, Rich, don't take this personally but I'm gonna go with mad, LOL...why don't you take the easy way out and just go buy some Arizona's Best Citrus Food? It's available at your local Home Depot or I'm sure Lowe's, etc. and is formulated especially for our climate. We swear by it! It's a little hot to fertilize now, but if the situation's dire apply a bit in the evening at or after dusk and water in well. Good luck! Here are some of my citrus which get the AZ best in the fall after it cools a bit and again in the spring.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 7:49PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Fun updates! Nice citrus, Queenie, thanks for posting them. They look great.

Neat experiments, Rich, keep us posted on that acidified water AND on the barberry. Now that's a plant I wouldnl't expect to be happy here long term, but maybe you'll pioneer a new great plant? Definitely keep us posted!

Thanks for the comments on the pink red bird of paradise. The others all failed quickly in previous years so it's much further along than any of the others. How nice would be it be to have a pink or pinkish form of a plant that does so great here?

My other long-term experiment which has been a huge success is my Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) which thrives in much of California. It's done great and blooms nicely for me AND has self sown around the garden. I've got several babies and grandbabies from the original plant. "They" said it wouldn't work, but it has and I love it.

It's NOT in bloom right now, but here's a pic of it in bloom.

Keep the experiments and updates coming! Happy gardening!
Grant

    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 9:19PM
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richsd

AZ GQ, your citrus trees look great! that dark green leaf color makes me "green" w/ envy :p I'll try to take some pics of my lemon tree leaves for you to see. Do you have a private well, or on a public water system?

What part of the valley are you in? Looks like you have a large property- nice. And I'll check out AZ's Best fertilizer. Ur right, I don't want to put down too much fertilizer this time of year.

Grant, ur right. Echium is popular in CA. If it proves successful here, it would be another landscape choice. One of my pet peeves is when people plant landscapes with the same overused species, over and over. Seems to me Home Depot etc help to perpetuate this habit by having such a limited variety of species for sale.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 9:44AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Fun information rich and all,

I'd say that Echium IS successful here as it's been growing, blooming and self-propagating in my garden for five years now. I just wish more people would grow it! I can save seeds from my next batch and/or dig up seedlings for our regular members who want some, or folks can order plants (in autumn not now, LOL) from Annie's Annuals (just be sure to get E. candicans not the other species). They're fun.

I like to do a mix of the dead-common plants and a few different ones too. For every successful new plant type like Echium, I kill three or four other "experiments", hah! But I always say the best gardeners kill the most plant (due to trying new types, or plants in unusual locations, or a different/novel care regime etc).

Fun stuff. I sure hope this little pinkie caesalpinia does well. So far so good, hah!

Happy gardening all, keep the updates on YOUR experiments coming. It's fun as long as it's not the bulk of our gardens.

Take are,
Grant

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 3:18PM
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slogal(CA z10a/Sunset 16)

I was in Phoenix last weekend and saw these plants (the yellow-orange variety) for the first time. They are stunning!

Not being familiar with them, can you tell me why the pink one is more difficult to grow? I live on the CA coast and would like to try them here.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:04PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hiya slogal and all, I do love the regular orange and red-orange variety of Caesalpinia pulcherrima too, so fun! They would definitely be worth trying in your area too (easy from seed).

When several of us tried the pink form from seed several years ago, the seedlings melted mid-summer, so I *think* it was the heat. However, I'm pleased to report that so far my pink Caeslpinia pulcherrima in the garden is still doing great and is almost five feet tall (pics below). Let us know if you give any of them a try and how they do. Happy gardening! Grant

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:23AM
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slogal(CA z10a/Sunset 16)

Glad to hear it's easy from seed. I found some on Amazon and there are complaints about germination rates. Do seeds need soaking, scarring, any special treatments before planting? I'm still trying to find a good seed source.

I saw you are growing Echium candicans -- a familiar friend, though I don't grow it. I do have the biennial, E. wildpretii, aka Tower of Jewels. Have you tried that? Same cultural reqs, might do well for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: E. wildpretii on Annie's blog

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 12:26PM
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V8Vega(9)

It seems as if I file (scar) and soak every seed I plant out here anymore. It works great.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:59PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I use fingernail clippers to clip the seeds to expose the white meat inside, but just a bit, then I soak them overnight in water. I don't know if it's required, but it doesn't hurt. I do get volunteers around my garden, so they're not too tough from seed. Let us know which types of Caesalpinia pulcherrima you try and how they work out.

Glad you like my Echium too. I'm still so suprised it has done so well here for so long. It self sows around my garden and I love it. It gets a bit tired looking mid summer but then perks up in autumn and does great. I'll check out some of Annie's other Echiums too. Great stuff! I get her catalog/emails and grow a lot of plants from her. Fun!

Happy gardening all!
Grant, checking each day for any signs of flower buds on the pink form of Caesalpinia pulcherrima, LOL.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 2:04PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hi everyone, okay, here's an update on the pink flowered form of "red bird of paradise" (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) in my garden. It's over 7 feet tall now, yay, and finally is making a few flower buds. It doesn't look like a big crop, but hey, I'll take what I can get.

The plant is really lovely, and tall, and delicate (and spiny) and now it has flower buds. I'm excited! Here's a very bad pic from this morning, LOL. Happy gardening!

Grant

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 10:29AM
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wanna_run_faster

excellent Grant! I used to have some of these and they are something special :) Don't be surprised if the flower is initially yellow, it does mature to pink

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 6:16PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Thanks, Wanna Run! I'll be patient. Well, as patient as an impatient gardener CAN be, lol, thanks for the tip. I'm getting excited! Happy gardening all!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:53AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Okay, I've been on vacation in Hawaii for ten days and saw several pink flowered Caeslpinia pulcherrima plants there and it was driving me crazy, LOL, so I'm glad I came back to buds that have a bit more color. I'm getting excited.

open, Open, OPEN, lol! Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 11:18PM
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Glendale_gardener(9)

I'm so curious to see the blooms! The buds are a gorgeous tease! How beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 6:38PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Thanks, GG! I'm eager to see these puppies open up too. Hurry hurry hurry, LOL. Thanks for sharing in the enthusiasm! Happy gardening!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2013 at 11:11AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

You know, the darn flowers barely opened up just in time for the cool weather, and then promptly fell off, grrr. Here's a quick pic of the nice foliage that it's making right now, but again, no blooms yet.

I was thinking last year the late flowers were because it was planted late, but THIS year it has no excuse, LOL, as it was already well established by the time it really woke up in March. It's over 6 feet tall now with tons of foliage, but no signs of any flower buds yet. If it doesn't have nice, open flowers by Halloween this year I'm ripping it out, LOL.

At least it's not dead! Happy gardening all!
Grant

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:01PM
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