If you enjoy the antics of hummingbirds, be sure to include a few Baja red fairy dusters in your garden. Their bright red, tufted flowers provide year around color and nectar, although the showiest displays are from spring through fall. Baja red fairy duster has ferny green foliage, and an open irregular form that lends itself well to natural landscapes. Mature plants might reach a size of 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Baja red fairy duster can be used in full sun or part shade, and is tolerant of most soil types. Temperatures below 20° F can cause some twig damage. Any shaping or pruning should be done in the late spring,but be careful not to overdue it, as heavy pruning will inhibit flower production!
Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is a must have for the desert garden. There is so much to love about this shrub.
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Calliandra californica (Baja fairy duster), is an evergreen, woody shrub which is native to Baja California, Mexico. In Spanish, the plant is also known vernacularly as tabardillo, zapotillo or chuparosa. The flowers, which appear in early summer, have clusters of red stamens. The shrub is usually between 0.6 and 1.8 metres in height and has bipinnate leaves. The leaves have been described as “fern-like.” Leaves close at night time.
C. californica is cold tolerant to temperatures of 22 degrees Fahrenheit, though its roots will tolerate temperatures as low as five degrees Fahrenheit. It grows best in full sun. C. californica is very drought tolerant, needing only 10 inches of water every year. However, additional watering will encourage C. californica to bloom through summer and again in the fall.
Propagation of C. californica is done through “acid scarification” or vegetative cutting. Seed pods from this plant look like “snow peas” and when ripe, they explode. The pods are flat and about 2 inches long. After ejecting seeds, the curled open pods remain attached to the plant for some time.
C. californica attracts both bees and hummingbirds.
Along with many other legumes and leadworts (Plumbago), it is a host plant for the Marine Blue caterpillar (Leptotes marina).
In landscaping, it is suggested that C. californica is used in borders or foreground plantings, as an island accent or even in containers.
As a member of the pea family, Baja fairy duster fertilizes itself, so no fertilizer or soil amendments are needed for this relatively fuss-free shrub.