Baja Fairy Duster - Will it make it in zone 8b?

Redthistle(8)November 11, 2004

I'd read about the Baja Fairy Duster and saw a picture of it in Tom Peace's "Sunbelt Gardening." However, I forgot to finish reading the description of it which went to the next page. Basically in the part of the description I missed reading, Tom Peace (also in zone 8b) said he keeps his in a pot and brings it inside because it doesn't like hard freezes. Well, I bought one and planted mine in the ground, and now I read the "rest of the story" about this zone 9 plant.

The plant's tag said it can survive to 15 degrees (but tags aren't always accurate). I have it mulched and can cover it with a blanket every time it freezes. What do you think? Does it have a chance for survival? It rarely gets below 20 degrees most winters here.

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I've had Calliandra eriophylla for a couple of years and have had jsut a little bit of freeze-back when the temp got low once, but no serious problem. I just throw a sheet over it on occasion. I doubt it needs a lot protection. Something I read said it can take temps over 0 degrees, with freeze damage in the teens.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2004 at 10:00PM
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Thanks Linda, that is exactly the information I needed to hear. I thought "Oh-Oh, I've made a mistake planting this plant." I'll cover it when it looks lik we're going to get a freeze, and as long as it doesn't die, I'm happy. The picture I have of the full plant is really pretty and hopefully, it will do better than the anthony waterer spirea it replaced.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 10:55AM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

From my understanding, it gets some frost damage at 25 degrees and can get killed at 20 degrees. If it gets below 20, just cover it up with a sheet or give it some protection and you will be all right.

Last winter, it got down in the teens in the Tucson area. I have not heard of anyone complaining that they lost them--so I assume that is good.

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Baja Fairy Duster

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 12:36PM
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Oh, that link says Calliandra californica. So maybe what you have is a different species than my C. eriophylla. I've heard conflicting info on freezing even on eriophylla, but like I said it's just frozen back once, and was slow coming back to full size, but did fine after that.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 2:00PM
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AzDesertRat(AZ 8b Sunset 12)

Linda, they are two slightly different species. The C. eriophylla is hardier than the californica. The eriophylla is hardy to the mid teens is grows between 1,000-5,000 feet while the Californica is native to Baja California which doesn't get as cold.

The common names are usually the source of confusion. I don't know which species we are talking about, but we got both of them covered now.

Hope that helps

Here is a link that might be useful: Calliandra eriophylla

    Bookmark   November 15, 2004 at 5:09PM
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Hi Linda and AzDesertRat, After the two of you posted, I went to take a look at the variety of Fairy Duster I have. Alas, all the tag says is "Fairy Duster Hybrid." Bah! Perhaps its a Calliandra eriophylla because the tag did say it was hardy to 15 degrees. We've had a ton of rain here--over 4 inches in just one night--so now instead of worrying about freezes, I'm worried about the poor plant drowning.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 10:44PM
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roo2000(AZ 13 PhxMetro)

I was just reading about a Calliandra hybrid that is a cross between C. peninsularis and C. eriophylla. In Landscape Plants for Dry Regions (Jones and Sacamano), they describe this hybrid as fairly cold hardy, but there apparently wasn't much of any supporting data available at the time of publication (2000). Maybe this is what you have?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 9:10PM
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I have two of those - one is huge and has survived the few spells of frost we have had. The smaller one does get frost bit and needs to be covered. But after I prune whatever was burnt (after the danger of frost has passed of course) it comes right back.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 11:17PM
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I have seen Calliandra californica as far north as the Los Angeles area. Temperatures rarely are below freezing & there is not much rain. I would protect this variety from frost & heavy rains. It sounds like your hybrid will fare better.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 9:53PM
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Just wanted to make an update to this post. Around Christmas, we received several days of 20 degree weather. I had my baja fairy duster heavily mulched, and I covered it with a blanket at night and put a large glass bottle filled with hot water beside it. It made it through this weather like a trooper, so I'm pleased. I can't wait to see what it does in the spring/summer.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 9:11PM
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Your fairy duster hybrid will be just fine with just a little mulch. Even if they freeze to the ground they grow back readily just like bird of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). Mine freeze every year. I don't even mulch them.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 1:05AM
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