Arizona’s well-known desert bird of paradise shrubs burgeon with vivid red flowers or delightful yellow blooms. The red bird of paradise, Caesalpinia Pulcherrima, is our favorite and we have several constituting a border.
This Red Bird of Paradise is a drought and heat tolerant shrub that relishes full sun with its lively red- orange flowers cultivating out of long, thin stalks.
All the Desert Bird of Paradise bushes are Perennial (only plant them once). Pruning and trimming is standard since these desert plants are easy growers; reaching over 10 feet tall. PRUNING your Desert Bird of Paradise
Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Desert Bird of Paradise seedlings easy. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant simply put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.
To germinate Bird of Paradise seeds, soak the seeds from the bean pods (pods need to be brown) in water for 48-72 hours. Next plant them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds. You may prefer to use the paper towel method to germinate your seeds; if so, when a white shoot (root) appears, plant it with the white rootDOWN. Cover the seeds lightly with damp soil.
Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun; it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.
These resilient desert bushes THRIVE in intense heat and look stunning with cactus, succulents, Lantana, even Bougainvillea!
Honey and Velvet Mesquite Trees can take the extreme heat and the cold! This tree grows fast. What is the most common tree of the Desert Southwest? It is the Mesquite! Like many members of the Legume Family, mesquite trees restore nitrogen to the soil.
There are 3 common species of NATIVE mesquite trees: Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina).
These native trees are extremely drought tolerant. Honey Mesquites are more rounded with big, floppy, drooping branches. The foliage is feathery and straight – paired with sharp spines on twigs.
This tree normally reaches 20–30 ft, but can reach as tall as 50 ft (15 m). The growth rate is medium. Honey mesquite coppices (it will make new growth from a root or stump if it is cut down), making permanent removal extremely hard. If a single trunk is cut down the Honey Mesquite will replace it with a multiple trunk version.
The Honey Mesquite has pale, yellow, elongated spikes and bears straight, yellow seed bean pods. In this picture you can see how long and strong this mesquite’s spikes are. I’ve learned NOT to wear flip-flops when walking around our Honey Mesquite!
Caring for mesquite trees is a simple process after the tree has fully matured. Mesquite trees need a full day’s worth of direct sun light to grow. Make sure to plant your mesquite tree in a place where it will always have a lot of quality sun.
Good staking is crucial to the mesquite tree, especially in areas with severe summer storms, monsoon season, or high winds.
The shade from these native Arizona trees create a 10-15 degree cooler temperature!
The shortcoming of a Chilean or Honey Mesquite tree is wind damage. Proper staking and proper watering can help you avoid wind damage with your mesquite trees.
Make your Mesquite trees “seek out” water and nutrients by careful arrangement of your irrigation emitters and scheduled DEEP irrigation. This will develop a more dispersed root system and reduces the risk of wind throw.
Pruning will keep your tree from becoming messy, while stimulating new growth on those branches that you pruned. The dead, diseased, broken or weak branches, drain the Mesquite tree’s energy.
Mesquite bean pods are rich in carbohydrates and have very low moisture content, making them an excellent source for harvesting, processing, and storage. A variety of animals eat the seeds such as quail, dear, javelina, coyotes, squirrels and rats.
Historic records have indicated that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the TREE OF LIFE.
During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, the mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers. Mesquite beans becamemanna from heaven.
Medical studies of mesquite trees and other desert foods, said that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Mesquite trees have lateral roots that extend far beyond the canopies of the plants and tap-roots that penetrate well below the surface of the soil. Some mesquites may live for more than two centuries; according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
(Prosopis Velutina) Velvet Mesquite is the most common of the North American varieties, it ranges from southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and most common to the Chihuahua and Sonorandeserts of Mexico.
Velvet Mesquite Trees are a deciduous plant that benefits by being able to retain moisture during the winter or exceptionally dry seasons better because water does not escape through the leaves. These Mesquite trees have elongated bean pods that are sweet to taste when ripe ( reddish-yellow color). This native tree has thorns with varying lengths even on the same branch.
For the first year, deeply water your mesquite tree every week or so until it has properly matured. Once your velvet mesquite tree has matured, it can survive with a little supplemental water in addition to natural rain. In case of droughts, do water your mesquite trees more often.
Velvet Mesquites hold the record for deepest root (160′); these tap-roots can tap into deep, underground water supplies that aren’t available to the average plant.
The seeds of mesquite trees need to be scarified (abraded in flash flood or digestive tract) to germinate. Coyotes, and other desert animals eat the bean pods regularly.
Quick facts: Yucca is a category of trees and shrubs that are members of the Asparagaceae family. It is an evergreen plant which does not annually shed its leaves. The long, narrow and pointed leaves of the Yucca grow in a cluster along the stem. Agave and Yucca are similarand belong to the same subfamily, Agavoideae.
From the center of this leaf cluster grows a cluster of bell shaped flowers. The edges of the leaves tend to be razor sharp, and the flowers are whitish-green, white or cream colored. In the evening some yucca blossoms open and emit a strong fragrance.
Yuccas come from the deserts and plains of southern North and Central America and with their stiff, leathery leaves and panicles of creamy white flowers, they make great architectural plants.
The yucca plant produces a fleshy or dry fruit. It is a large fruit that contains numerous small, flat, ebony colored seeds. The Native Americans ate the yucca’s fruit during the winter months, after first preserving it by drying. The Native Americans also made fermented beverages from the yucca fruit. The appearance of the yucca fruit varies by the type of yucca plant. Some resemble a green egg plant, and others look like wrinkled bell peppers.
Yucca plants grow in parts of the Caribbean, in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States and in Mexico’s desert highlands and plateaus. While most of the plants are shrubs, there are some tree varieties, such as the Joshua tree. A large collection of yucca plants grow at the Joshua Tree National Park in the Southern California desert. The Joshua Tree National Park includes over 800,000 acres, and is under the National Park’s authority.
Native Americans found many uses for the yucca plant. From the leaf fibers they made baskets, sandals, ropes and mats. They utilized the fruit as food and to make drinks. They even ate the flowers from the yucca, which were either boiled or eaten raw. From the stems and roots of the yucca they made soap. Today yucca plants are used as decorative yard foliage and as bordering plants.
Yucca trees are known for being quite tall, although they can be grown indoors if you trim them back often.
If you are growing a yucca tree indoors, repot your yucca cane when it becomes top heavy or its roots stick out of the drainage hole at the bottom of its container.
These Yucca trees are quite strong as well, so you don’t need to worry about damaging them when pruning and trimming. Pruning yucca trees is a simple and straightforward process. Because the yucca tree is a cane plant, pruning is synonymous with cutting the trunk.
Red, Salvia darcyi, survived well through the desert winter months that hit in the mid 30’s and does superb in the high heat as long as it is watered everyday! It is a thirsty plant during these temperatures of 100 degrees or more. I recommend larger pots than the ones I used.
This is by far the MOST hardy, successful flower in my Arizona Garden! This perennial Salvia will generally grow from between eighteen inches and thirty-six inches, yet there are some that are much smaller. Mine is averaging about 20 -22 inches. The red salvia in the picture is a young plant that actually started from a fallen seed. The photo above is just after I pruned the finished red flowers. From having Salvia (red and blue) for over 2 years now I have learned it is best to trim them quite far down the stem to gain a thicker shrub. Best of all this flowering plant is critter proof. Last year the desert rats, squirrels, and rabbits ate most of our flowers except the Salvia. Since then, we are determined to have a rat-proof, squirrel-proof, rabbit-proof thriving Garden. Quick note:Hummingbirds love the flowers and will visit your garden often!
To keep your Salvia looking vibrant and encourage better flowering, deadhead the plant. You can do this by pinching or cutting off the flower spikes with spent blooms, I like to use small pruning shears.
Red salvia flowers can form a striking border when massed together. It is a good choice for a bedding plant. Some people call this perfect Arizona plant, Scarlet Sage.
The health promoting attributes of Pomegranates put it in the category of “SUPER FOODS”. Pomegranate contains potent and unrivaled antioxidants called punicalagin and punicalin. The juice of the Pomegranate has greater antioxidant activity than acai juice, green tea, cranberry juice or red wine.
Pomegranate is one of the earliest cultivated fruits throughout history. It appears in Egyptian tombs, Greek mythology and even in the Bible. Pomegranate is a symbol of abundance and faith in many cultures. Recorded history shows that over 2000 years ago Pomegranate was used to treat an assortment of illnesses.
Inside the fruit are hundreds of tiny seeds called arils; this is what we eat or make into juice. The aril is delicious with a sweet, tart flavor that is high in vitamin C. Pomegranates originated in Iran and are commonplace throughout the Middle East. The unique flavor and exceptional health benefits are making it increasingly popular in the United States.
Pomegranate Health Benefits:
Pomegranate has anti-inflammatory effects that help protect against cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Type 2 Diabetes.
Research showed patients with prominent carotid artery blockage showed a 30% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque after one year of drinking one ounce of Pomegranate juice per day.
Pomegranate is high in vitamin C and is a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin K and protein.
Studies conducted showed patients with memory issues that drank pomegranate juice every day performed better and exhibited increased brain activity on their MRI.
The antibacterial and antiviral properties of Pomegranate help reduce dental plaque.
Research and clinical studies continue to investigate pomegranates and their antioxidant effects. The experts state that drinking Pomegranate juice whole and unprocessed is the best way.
The 2009 article “Pomegranate juice: a heart healthy fruit juice,” published in Nutrition Reviews states, “Observational studies and clinical trials investigating the cardiovascular health benefits of fruits and vegetables, attribute these effects to the combination of phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients in whole food intake, rather than the sole effects of an individual component.”
An easy way to eat the seeds, arils, of the Pomegranate is to slice the fruit in half. Using a bowl of water, hold the half upside down and beat gently with a wooden spoon so the seeds drop down in the water. The arils (seeds) are delicious alone, in cereals, or in your favorite dish.
Before adding Pomegranates to your diet consult your physician. The high vitamin K may counteract blood thinners. It is always best to speak to your pharmacist or physician first.
The bountiful pomegranate tree is native to the Mediterranean region which has similar growing conditions as the Arizona Sonoran Desert. Pomegranates thrive in the drier climates of California and Arizona. As a matter of fact, in 2009 the first commercial pomegranate farm started in Arizona. This fruit tree seems satisfied with our alkaline soil and experiences no deficiencies!
Although the pomegranate originated in Iran, ancient records show it is one of the oldest known cultivated fruits. Biblical Archaeologists discovered fruit such as the pomegranate, was much more than a food; it had symbolic significance for the Ancient Israelites. The antiquated Greeks believed pomegranate juice was the “symbol of love”. The botanical name for pomegranate is Punica granatum belonging to the family Lythraceae. P. granatum has more than 500 cultivars. In 1769, the pomegranate was introduced into California by Spanish Settlers.
In the sizzling, sunniest area of our yard we now have five pomegranate trees, shrubs ranging from six months to six years old. “Wonderful” is our cultivar and is also the most common cultivar for Arizona. Recently, we had record temperatures of 113 degrees F; with higher temps forecasted for next week. There was some vexing over the younger plants, but it proved to be unnecessary. We are delighted to report our Punica granatum flourished in the extreme desert heat!
The adamant pomegranate is drought tolerant and does best with well-drained soil, semi-arid climates and plant hardiness zones 8 to 10. The fruit is adversely affected in wetter climates along with the plant becoming prone to root decay. Tolerant to frost down to 20 degrees F. Easy to grow, this deciduous tree can mature to 30 feet; but it is more common to see pomegranates at 12 – 15 feet.
The leaves of Punica granatum are glossy, narrow, lance-shaped and deer resistant. The lavish flowers are bright orange-red with a fleshy tubular calyx. Some cultivars are grown for their flowers alone and used as ornamental trees.
Pomegranate fruit is a berry filled with seeds numbering 200 to 1,400. The seeds are in a white, spongy, acidic membrane. The outer skin is a tough , leathery texture.
The fruit is ripe when it reaches its distinctive color and it makes a metallic sound when tapped. Overripe fruit will begin to crack and the seeds will become harder.
The easiest way to eat a p. granatum is to use a bowl of water to separate the seeds. The seeds sink and the white membrane floats.
Slice the fruit in half and then hold it upside down and beat gently with a wooden spoon so the seeds drop down in the water.
Another reason Pomegranates ranked #1 on our list:
Yucca is an evergreen, perennial plant with spine-tipped leaves that grow in a rosette around a thick central stem. More than 25 species of Yucca live in the arid regions of the southwest. One of the finest aspects of this desert plant is that it is low maintenance.
If its craggy look doesn’t bother you then it is not even necessary to prune it.
Trimming the Yucca plant is commonplace, especially for ornamental purposes. The best time to prune those rugged leaves is spring. While early spring is the ideal season, a yucca can be trimmed anytime. Just make sure the yucca plant gets plenty of light while it is recovering.
Cutting back a yucca may look harsh, but it is an attractive way to keep your plant manageable. When the Yucca completes flowering cut the stalk all the way to the ground with a sharp pair of lopping shears. To prevent cuts and scratches, wear heavy garden gloves.
Keep in mind that cutting the top off the yucca encourages the root system to push up new growth and more plants, called “pups” will appear. Hire professionals to do your yucca trimming if you are short on time.
Tidbits: The Apache Indians preferred the flowers of Yucca elata, a thin-leaf yucca, to those of the thick-leaf banana yucca. We know that these flowers were eaten thousands of years ago because unusually large amounts of yucca pollen have been found in some dried human feces collected from Hinds Cave.
Maguey or Agave americana is a native plant from Mexico, but is now cultivated in many parts of the world. This drought tolerant plant, also known by the name century plant or American aloe, is neither an aloe nor a cactus, but pertains to the Agavaceae family. The unique architectural Agave is one of the best xeriscape plants for your garden.
Maguey Plant is one of the many species of agave plants (commonly called cactus) that exist in the Americas. They grow in semi-arid environments from sea level to an altitude of about 9000 feet.
Above, is one of the largest Agave Americana Plants, Maguey Plant or Century Plants in the world. (photo courtesy of statesman.com)
In ancient Mesoamerica, (Middle America), maguey or agave, was first collected and then cultivated for many uses. Native people used the agave leaves to make ropes, construction materials and textiles. See the picture below of Agave felgeri, also called Mescalito. Mescalito is native to Mexico and is found in many desert gardens especially in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.
Ancient Mayans used Agave thorns in bloodletting rituals, Royal Maya Blood Sacrifices, to communicate with the gods. However, the most important product the Mayans obtained from maguey, agave, was a mildly alcoholic beverage called pulque, obtained by the fermentation of the sweet, milky juice extracted from the agave plant.
Agave americana(aka Century Plant) is a massive plant. There are many varieties of agave in cultivation, with some being excellent for smaller gardens or pots, and some being too large; therefore used for botanical gardens or ranches.
Agaves are called century plants since some species take 100 years to flower in the wild. However, in cultivation with adequate summer moisture, most agaves flower between 10 and 15 years of age. When they do flower, the tall bloom stalks attract many hummingbirds!
Agave americana grows wild in Europe, India, Australia and South Africa. It has become naturalized in many areas such as California. In southern California there are massive plantings of Agave american, Century Plants, along the highways. This Century Plant, Agave american, is a common species of agave that is beautiful but very aggressive. Many gardens in California and Mexico use Agave americana as a living fence.
When Century plants or other agave cactus are grown in pots, they will grow to the size of the container. Please note that containerized century plants must be brought indoors when temperatures drop below freezing. Below is one of our agaves growing in a pot next to other cacti. Two Maguey, Agave americanas are in the top right of the picture below.
Many have asked – Is the Red Bird of Paradise plant toxic?
All 3 of the bird of paradise flowering bushes are poisonous.
The orange and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, make a stunning bush.
The true Mexican Bird of Paradise tree has yellow flowers and round leaves.
The Yellow Bird of paradise plant has clusters of yellowflowers with a long red stamen.
All of these beautiful desert bushes belong to the genus Caesalpinia. But DO NOT eat any part of the 3 Bird of Paradise plants.
Caesalpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, FABACEAE. The fruit of these Bird of Paradise desert bushes is a long, flat seed pod.
The seed pods are toxic! Watch small children and pets around these shrubs.
The level of toxicity for the bird of paradise plants is low. The leaves contain hydrocyanic acid. The toxins in the bean pods are tannins. The role of tannins in many species of plants is to protect it from predators.
Ingesting any part of bird of paradise plants can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms of bird of paradise poisoning.
While the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise’s toxins are not life-threatening; keep in mind that diarrhea and vomiting can produce dehydration. These symptoms should be taken seriously and you should seek medical treatment.
While traveling Arizona we stopped at Saguaro National Park, in Tucson. The park is located in the Sonoran Desert.
The giant cacti, called Saguaros, are protected and preserved within the park.
After a single rainfall, Saguaros can soak up to 200 gallons of water through their huge network of roots that lay just 4-6 inches below the desert surface. That is enough water to last this giant cactus an entire year!
A saguaro expands like an accordion when it absorbs water which can increase its weight by up to a ton.
In 1931, The Saguaro’s Blossom became the Arizona State Flower.
The Saguaro Cactus blooms April through June. Its flowers are creamy white and numerous. Up to a hundred flowers can bloom on one Saguaro Cactus!
The saguaro blossom opens after sunset and by the next afternoon the flower is wilted. The white cactus flower repeats itself night after night. During the few hours the saguaro flower is open birds, bats, and honeybees pollinate them.
Later in the summer, the cactus flowers that were pollinated will become red-fleshed saguaro fruits that are enjoyed by the local bird population. The saguaro cactus is also known as the pitahaya, sahuara and giant cactus.
The Saguaro often begins life with a nurse tree or shrub which can provide shade and moisture for the germination of life. This Saguaro grows slowly — only about an inch a year — eventually becoming very tall; reaching heights of 50 feet. The largest saguaro cacti, with more than 5 arms, are approximately 200 years old.
Define drought tolerant. What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).
A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant. Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.
Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.
Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss. Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.
Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.
In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.
CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.
High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.
Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.
Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.
Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.
This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet). Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.
Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.
There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.
The flowers on the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes are thriving in the sweltering heat. Vivid energetic colors of this drought tolerant shrub are sure to catch the eye of any passer-by.
This is one of our favorite desert shrubs we recommend to people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, and drought resistant.
With an abundance of fern-like leaves these delightful shrubs can add a tropical perspective to any desert landscape!
Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima , should be in late winter or early spring. Use a sharp pair of garden shears. Our Bird of Paradise bushes are pruned about 16 inches from ground level.
Caesalpinia gilliesii, Yellow Bird of Paradise or sometimes called “Desert Bird of Paradise” is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas.
The signature long red stamens adorn the clusters of charming yellow flowers. Originally from Argentina, this Yellow Bird of Paradise upright shrub is very fast growing.
This long-lived, drought tolerant plant is very durable along with cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best! All parts of the bird of paradise plants are toxic. Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.
Plant your Bird of Paradise in full sun locations. These bushes do fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils.
In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems. In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week. Water it deeply to stimulate a long taproot. Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.
These desert favorites are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide exciting color over and over throughout the year. All Bird of Paradise plants are winners for your Arizona or desert landscape!
The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large! It is hardy and does well in any soil; but, the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be.
Bird of Paradise plants look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and bean pods are poisonous so be careful your children and pets don’t eat them.
Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once the taproot is established. With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.
Many people refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has all yellow flowersand is larger.
Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise. It is larger with ROUND leaves and can be pruned into a small tree.
Using bean pods to grow your bird of paradise plants is uncomplicated and well worth the effort.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae, pea family.
Other common names are Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin.
This is especially true for the Red Bird of Paradise bushes, genus Caesalpina, along the roads in Tucson and Phoenix, also common in TX, Mexico and CA.
This drought tolerant plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Are the Bird of Paradise Bean Pods edible? NO, all Bird of Paradise plants and bushes are poisonous if ingested.
Bean Pods on the Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs need toturn brown before you can germinate the seeds. The green bean pods pictured above and below are too young and need more time to dry on the desert plant.
Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.
PLANT AND GROW – How to grow bird of paradise plants, bushes, shrubs from seeds.
To germinate the seeds of your bird of paradise perennial plant first step is to score the hard outer coating. I use sandpaper to lightly scrape the seeds then soak them in warm water for 24-48 hours. They will germinate quickly like most seeds in the bean, Legumefamily, do.
To grow your Red Bird of Paradise, plant the soaked seed in peat pots. Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or a good soil.
You should have bird of paradise seedlings in a few days to a week depending on how hard the outer coat of the seeds are.
Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.
Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Mexican, Yellow or Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier.
Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.
The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in full sun and has brightred and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy, ferny-looking.
This is an extraordinarily heat resistant, drought tolerant flowering bush that is a perfect addition to any yard. The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested. See the photo above of large flowering bushes commonly seen along the streets in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona along with Texas and California.
The Saguaro cactus will produce white flowers from April to June. This beautiful desert show only occurs 2 months out of the year.
This breath-taking Saguaro Cactus Blossom was designated Arizona’s State Flower in 1931.
The Saguaro flowers are velvety white, and emit a sweet nectar that attracts bats. During the night the flowers are pollinated by the Mexican long-tongued bat and the lesser long-nosed bat.
During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds.
The Saguaro Cactus (pronounced “sah-wah-roh”), is an icon of the American west.
Arizona’s Saguaro National Park provides the ideal conditions for sustaining dense stands of the famous saguaro cactus, Carnegiea gigantea.
Saguaro blossoms are usually found near the tops of the stems and arms of the giant cactus.
There can be close to a hundred of these creamy white flowers on ONE Saguaro!
Ever wonder what the Saguaro Cactus Flowers smell like? The smell is very strong and I’d have to say these cactus blossoms smell like overripe melons!
We visit Saguaro Park many times throughout the year; but I have to say April through June is some of our favorite months. If we get to the park in the early mornings we are sure to see the Saguaro Cactus with their white flowers open.
One of the great MASTERS of desert survival is The Giant Saguaro Cactus. Every aspect of this cactus plant is specifically designed to thrive in the harsh Sonoran Desert.
At 35 years of age the Saguaro Cactus will start to produce flowers.
The saguaro flower opens after sunset and by next early afternoon the blossom is wilted.
The whitecactus flower repeats itself night after night. They have less than 24 hours to attract an animal to be pollinated.
A Saguaro can only be fertilized from a different cactus – cross pollination.
At the top of the Saguaro flower tube is a dense group of yellow stamens. The Saguaro Cactus has more stamen on its flower than any other desert cactus. Nectar accumulates at the bottom that attracts insects, bats, and birds.
The Saguaroflowers do not bloom all at the same time. Only a few flowers bloom each night waiting to be pollinated and then wilt by early afternoon.
The cactus flowers that were pollinated will become red-fleshed saguaro fruits later in the summer.
The animals, such as bats, that eat the red fruit help spread the Saguaro cactus seeds across the desert.
Each cactus fruit can contain up to 2000 small black seeds. Saguaro fruit is an excellent source of food and moisture for many desert animals.
Arizona has strict regulations about the harvesting, collection or destruction of The Arizona Saguaro Cactus. It is illegal to harm a Saguaro in Arizona.