Calliandra, a delicate plant

Calliandra haematocephala

Calliandra is a shrubby plant bearing extremely ornamental foliage and flowers.

Calliandra key facts

Name – Calliandra
Family – Fabaceae
Type – shrub

Height – 6 to 13 feet (2 to 4 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – well-drained

Foliage – deciduous or evergreen, depending on the climate
Flowering – April to August

Native to tropical climates, this plant needs sun and moisture to develop well.

Planting, growing calliandra

Planting calliandraPerform the planting indifferently in fall or spring.

  • Choose a mostly sheltered spot, preferably endowed with a lot of light.

Calliandra presents high needs in terms of moisture since it comes from tropical climates. To compensate the dryness of the air, you can rest the pot on a bed of gravel or clay pebbles that are doused with water: evaporation will rise and weave through the leaves.

Pruning and caring for calliandra

White calliandra powder puff flower on shrub.At the end of winter, before the flowering, prune to balance the shrub out delicately.

In spring and summer

Watering is required frequently in summer, especially if the weather is warm.

If set indoors behind a window, avoid direct impact on the plant of the sun’s rays during the warmest hours of the day, mist water around the leaves if need be, with soft water.

In fall and winter

Pruning CalliandraSlowly reduce the amount of water you provide in fall, matching the waning days and temperatures.

Avoid heat sources such as radiators.

Propagating Calliandra

Calliandra propagation comes in handy, since these shrubs don’t have a very long lifespan. Ten-fifteen years is considered honorable. You can multiply Calliandra through seed sprouting and cuttings to replace dying specimens.

How to grow calliandra from seed

Calliandra seeds form in pods that look like snow peas. Wait for the pod to have matured on the plant to the point that it pops open.

  • CalliandraIt helps to wrap the pods in a pouch or cloth to catch the seeds, but if you’ve got a large number of plants it usually isn’t a problem because they fruit prolifically.
  • Soak the seeds in warm water (same temperature you’d get a baby’s bottle) for a day.
  • Plant the seeds in soil mix and keep it moist but not too wet to avoid mold.
  • Sprouting should occur after 10-20 days.

Always prefer seeds from the healthiest plant and try to select a parent that grows nearby. Indeed, seeds from thriving local plants will be best suited to growing in similar environments within a same garden or neighborhood.

How to grow calliandra from cuttings

Cuttings is the other easy way to propagate your Calliandra.

  • Depending on the size of the plant, snip stems off that are either a foot (30 cm) or a yard (one meter) in length. Longer stems have lower success rates but when they grow they’ll do so faster.
  • Remove 9 out of 10 pairs of leaves, leaving only the few topmost pairs. Break them off gently.
  • Either set them in water (in a glass or a cut gallon jug for the larger ones) and change water every three days
  • Or set them directly in a pot of well-draining soil mix where they’ll take root. Use rooting hormone if available.
  • Once rooted, transplant to final pot or to the garden.

Cuttings start rooting within about two weeks and are ready for transplant within a month and a half. Before planting, reduce risk of transplant shock by setting the pot in place for a week before digging and planting.

Calliandra problems, diseases and pests

CCalliandra problemsalliandra is not used to dry air, so lack of moisture can lead to:

  • yellow leaves and leaf drop

An exception to this is Calliandra eriophylla, commonly called the Fairy duster. It copes well with dry air, but it still needs watering at least every 5-8 days.

Pests are the usual culprits:

Learn more about Calliandra

This elegant shrub native to Brazil bears interesting and unique flowers over the summer.

Since it is well suited to heat, it grows in pots well, even in the open sun.

When grown in a pot, you can bring it indoors over the winter in a cool spot where frost doesn’t creep in.

Read also about Calliandra:

Smart tip about Calliandra

To boost the blooming, you can add organic fertilizer once or twice a month as soon as the first flowers appear.

Images: Pixabay: Bishnu Sarangi, Sharon, Rosângela Resende; Public Domain: The Fun Chronicles, Papa Pic