It may seem odd to refer to colorful flowers as friends, but that is what I think of the blooms of my red bird-of paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) shrubs.
They are located beneath my kitchen window and this time of year, the blooms have just begun to reach up to the window. What is even better is that the first blooms of the season are just beginning to open.
The bright yellow, orange and red flowers brighten up my day as I work in the kitchen.
Many visitors and new residents ask me about this beautiful shrub. It really is stunning in the summer landscape.
Native to tropical America, Red Bird-of-Paradise is grown throughout southern areas of the United States, the Caribbean and has been brought to India and the Philippines. It thrives in areas with heat and sun.
Depending on where you live, this is one shrub that has a multitude of common names….
Pride of Barbados
In areas with warm winters, this shrub is evergreen. However, during the winter in my zone 8b garden, my shrubs go dormant and are cut back to 1ft. from the ground. This may seem somewhat like severe pruning when it is done each year, but it ensures beautiful shrubs in late spring. Cold hardy to zone 8a, they can be killed to the ground when temperatures fall into the teens.
The foliage is also quite beautiful and grows back very quickly in the spring after pruning.
Butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to the beautiful flowers. I have seen some shrubs absolutely covered with butterflies in September.
Plant in full sun or filtered shade. Shrubs planted in the shade will have reduced flowering and sparser foliage and so I recommend planting in full sun.
Their size varies from 3 ft. by 3 ft. all the way to 10 ft. to 10 ft., so make sure you have room for it to grow. In desert gardens, they do require regular irrigation.
I have planted many of these shrubs in both commercial and residential landscapes with great results. They are not fussy in the least. My shrubs are now 11 years old and have never been fertilized or the soil amended.
There is another variety is called ‘Phoenix Bird’, which has distinct yellow flowers (not to be confused with Caesalpinia mexicana). I used this variety when I designed the landscape for my in-laws.
Whatever you decide to call this beautiful shrub, it is just perfect for me…..it is beautiful and does not require a lot of work to make it look that way.
I am so happy that my summer friends have returned 🙂