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Growing and caring for the Mexican red bird of paradise plant (Caesalpinia mexicana) is simple. Nevertheless, this plant is sometimes mistaken for other species in the genus. Although they all have the same fundamental growth needs, it’s vital to understand the tiny distinctions between the plants so you can get the most out of your gardening experience.
One of the most well-known tropical flowers is the unique bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.). It has a tight relationship with the banana plant. The Bird of Paradise plant gets its name from its resemblance to the tropical bird of the same name. It is less difficult to cultivate than many tropical plants and makes a robust, fast-growing indoor plant. It may be brought outdoors during the summer and flourishes for half of the year.
The bird of paradise normally blooms in late winter or early spring, although it may bloom at other times of the year if the circumstances are right. These plants have no stems and grow with erect leaves that emerge straight from the earth. The huge leaves vary in length from 12 to 18 inches and may split when exposed to wind or brushed against in a busy corridor. Strelitzia poisons cats and dogs as well.
Red Bird of Paradise Tree vs. Mexican Bird of Paradise Tree
The red bird of paradise (C. pulcherrima), often known as the Mexican bird of paradise (among many other common names), is frequently mistaken for the true Mexican bird of paradise tree (C. mexicana). While both species are classified as shrubs or small trees, and both are evergreen in frost-free areas and deciduous in others, they are not the same plant.
The Mexican bird of paradise, as opposed to the red bird of paradise, features vivid yellow blooms with long red filaments. The red bird of paradise is distinguished by its stunning red blossoms and fern-like leaves. There is also a yellow variation (C. gilliesii) that looks similar to C. pulcherrima but has a different hue. In tropical climes, all species bloom in the summer or all year.
In Tucson, Arizona, the Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) has long been a favored summer flowering plant. It heralds the arrival of spring with a stunning display of orange-red blossoms. This shrub grows quickly to 8 feet tall with a spread of the same size or larger. It may grow up to 10 feet tall in completely frost-free areas. Its compound leaves are medium green and have up to nine divisions, each with up to twelve pairs of tiny leaflets.
Red Bird of Paradise leaves drop at temperatures below freezing and is cold hardy to 28o F.Red racemes (flower stalks) may grow up to 20 inches long in the spring. From March through October, the racemes form a triangular, pyramid-like structure on which individual flowers bloom.
The blooms are an eye-catching blend of orange and crimson clusters with lengthy filaments. Some cultivars feature yellow or orange tips on the flower petals, while others have pure yellow blooms. Red Bird of Paradise is a great accent shrub that tolerates extreme heat.
Mexican Bird of Paradise Growing Instructions
Growing Mexican bird of paradise (along with other species) is simple if the proper conditions are met. This plant produces an excellent specimen plant or may be grown as a shrub in a mixed border. It may be cultivated in a container, which is very useful in colder climates.
Keep in mind the total size of the Mexican bird of paradise, which can grow to be up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) tall with a comparable spread.This plant is drought-resistant and thrives in well-drained soil with lots of sunlight. While it can tolerate partial shade, its flowers will be less abundant in these conditions.
You’ll need to water the plant weekly until it’s firmly established in the landscape, and it may need fertilizing when in bloom.
Once established, Mexican bird of paradise requires little attention other than periodic trimming to keep it manageable and clean This is often done in the winter (when it naturally dies down) and is normally trimmed a third back or to the ground. Potted plants may be overwintered inside and pruned as required.
Plant Care for the Red Bird of Paradise
Red Bird of Paradise grows well in full light and well-draining soil. It struggles on hard clay soils. Irrigation on a regular basis will help this plant maintain its vitality. Every week in the summer, every other week in the spring and autumn, and at least once a month in the winter, water established the Red Bird of Paradise.
In the spring, use a slow-release organic fertilizer. The initial flush of bloom fades at the end of July. August is an excellent month to prune dead flower stalks down to the first set of visible new shoots. This “retreat” will induce another phase of blossoming, which might extend until October. By pruning it in the winter, you can shape and manage its size.
To re-energize the plant, trim it down to within a foot or two of the ground every two years. The Red Bird of Paradise has incredible recuperative abilities. Even those that freeze and die back to the ground will often recover and bloom the following summer.