The spectacular Caesalpinia pulcherrima [ses-al-PIN-ee-uh pul-KAIR-ih-muh] produces bright orange flowers looking like butterflies lingering over the plant. It’s an unusual yet marvelous sight.
Native to Central and South America and likely the West Indies, the fern-like foliage is a major contrast to the colorful flowers.
It’s part of the Fabaceae family of flowering plants, which is also known as the pea or legume family.
It’s also got a few other common names:
- Dwarf Poinciana
- Pride of Barbados flower
- Peacock flower
The bushy small tree is an interesting choice in any full sun setting. To ensure it is enjoyed for many years, follow these simple plant care tips.
Caring For Caesalpinia Pulcherrima
Size and Growth
The plant has bushy growth with fern-like foliage. The stems are thin, the leaves are delicate, and it requires lots of space.
The attractive plant is commonly seen in public parks in its native region but can grow indoors. Keep an eye on the growth as it can easily reach six feet.
In the right conditions, it may even climb up to 15 feet in nature.
Flowering and Fragrance
The Pride of Barbados Flower produces red and yellow flowers in the summer with a distinct look. As mentioned, they resemble groups of butterflies.
The showy flowers are bright orange with red stamens protruding several inches. The orange petals are lined with yellow. The result is one of the most attractive displays.
Light and Temperature
As the plant is native to Central and South America, it doesn’t tolerate colder temperatures. It’s best suited for life in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
When grown outdoors, it enjoys full sun and well-drained soil. Some shade is okay but grows best in an area with plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
If grown inside, the plant needs lots of space to deal with the fast-growing stems. It can survive in average room temperature in a room with lots of sunlight, but not direct sunlight.
Watering and Feeding
Water the plant regularly throughout the summer. Check it regularly to ensure the soil never dries out. In the winter, water infrequently.
Fertilizer is okay but not always necessary. The plant thrives with the right temperature, soil, and water. When fertilizing, feed with a liquid food every two weeks in the spring and summer.
Established Caesalpinia Pulcherrima have a much great level of drought tolerance.
Soil and Transplanting
The Caesalpinia Pulcherrima grows best in porous, sandy well drained soil. To ensure it provides optimal drainage, add a little bit of peat to the soil mixture.
Transplant before spring in late February or early March. When transplanting, use the same mixture of soil discussed. It should be sandy and porous.
Maintenance and Grooming
The only grooming the plant needs starts when plants grow too large. This is common when growing the Caesalpinia Pulcherrima indoors.
Cut the plant back in February or March after transplanting. A week or two before cutting, place the plant in a warmer location compared to its current home.
After cutting, give the plant fertilizer through the rest of spring and summer.
Propagating Dwarf Poinciana Trees
Propagating the plant is easiest with seeds. To obtain the seeds from the flowers, cut the seed pods off toward the end of the season and allow them to dry through winter.
After winter, remove the seeds from the dried flowers and sow them toward the end of spring. Use the following steps to ensure that the seedlings take root:
- Spread the seeds in trays over sandy, porous soil
- Keep the tray at 75° degrees Fahrenheit or warmer
- After the seedlings emerge, place the tray near a window
- About two months after sprouting, transplant the new plants into individual pots.
- Move the plants into larger pots the following spring.
Caesalpinia Pulcherrima Pests or Diseases
The Peacock flower is considered a robust plant. It doesn’t have any specific disease problems. However, aphids and spider mites can still attack.
If you detect aphids, remove them with a spray of cold water. Spider mite infestations may be treated with insecticide.
Unfortunately, severe infestations are often impossible to stop and may cost you the plant.
Suggested Uses For Caesalpinia Pulcherrima
Due to the size of this plant, it needs lots of room for indoor growth. Place it in a large pot and set it in a large room during the cooler months and on a patio or garden in the warmer months.
A colorful curbside tree when grown outdoors. The plant needs its own space where it can branch out.
Consider growing Caesalpinia near a structure such as a fence, a garage, or the side of the house.