Desert Shrubs – Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Lacy leaves and continually blooming red, orange with a splash of yellow flowers on my Bird of Paradise Arizona shrub. I was worried that the monsoon rains from this week would damage my young Red Bird of Paradise plant. No worries! I have new orange, yellow and red flowers decorating our driveway and the hummingbirds love it.

Arizona and Texas bushes
bushes with bean pods and orange flowers

The Southwest including California, Arizona, and Texas are cascading with these flowering desert plants and hardy drought tolerant bushes.

orange flowering arizona bushes
Bird of Paradise shrub with orange flowers

Some my even think the Red Bird of Paradise is a native plant of Arizona. Actually,  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.

This flowering perennial shrub is one of the easiest desert plants to care for. Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy, drought tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots) With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

The Red Bird of Paradise

I’ve heard many people in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona refer to this orange and red desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The real Mexican Bird of Paradise has yellow flowers and is larger. The Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico.

Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico and has yellow flowers
Red Bird of Paradise in Tucson

The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in  full sun and has bright red, yellow and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy,  ferny-looking. The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested.

yellow and orange flowering bush

A few bean pods are appearing on the Red Bird of Paradise bushes in our yard.  I look forward to propagating the seeds later this season as I’ve already located a sunny spot in our xeriscape desert garden to grow more. Red Bird of Paradise plants are a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family.

Bean Pods on Bird of Paradise bush
Bean Pods on Red Bird of Paradise

To germinate the Red Bird of Paradise seeds, I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24 hours.  I put them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds. They germinate. Red 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 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 Texas Ranger Sage shrub – bushes with purple or white flowers

What is that blooming sage shrub or plant that is overflowing with purple flowers in the AZ desert? Humidity from Monsoon season brings a purple explosion for the Arizona Desert. The Texas Sage, Texas Ranger Plants are in full bloom! Take a look at the gorgeous purple sage pictures.

Picture of The Texas Ranger Plant. In Arizona it is commonly called Purple Texas Sage.

One of the best drought tolerant, heat resistant desert plants is the Purple Texas Sage bush / shrub (Texas Ranger Plant). Texas Sage is mostly evergreen (meaning it keeps its leaves), drought resistant, perennial, cold resistant, hard to kill and fits well in a low maintenance xeriscape garden.  These blooming desert plants thrive in the hot, humid monsoon season of Arizona.

Flowering Texas Ranger Shrub (Texas Sage Bush) in our yard. Gorgeous Purple!

Because the showy purple flower display coincides with high humidity, Texas Purple Sage is sometimes nicknamed a barometer plant.

Tucson bushes with purple flowers
Purple flowering bushes in the desert

Mostly you will hear this Arizona desert plant referred to as Texas Sage.  Actually it is not a true sage.  Texas Ranger Shrubs are related to penstemons and snap dragons.  This desert bush is native to Mexico and Texas.

Chihuahuan SageLeucophyllum laevigatum

The picture above is a variety of desert Sage bushes, called Chihuahuan Sage, Leucophyllum laevigatum. All of our sage bushes are blooming with brilliant purple flowers and lots of bees. These desert bushes are perfect for bees.

Arizona bush with purple flowers
Purple Sage Shrub Plant

I could even say that the Texas Ranger Shrub is the best plant to attract bees!  We have so many bees in our purple shrubs that you can hear the buzzing from across the yard. Texas Ranger plants and all the different varieties of sage would be a great benefit to bee hives.

Purple Sage bush, Chihuahuan Sage

Our Chihuahuan Sage, more commonly called Texas Purple Sage, is along the back of our yard where it receives full sun.  The hotter it gets the more this drought tolerant flowering shrub loves it!

The Chihuahuan variety of sage has an informal, relaxed growth habit. You can see in the pictures that I missed this seasons pruning. The best time to prune your Sage bush is in the spring because the summer desert heat brings a flush of new growth.

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season. Once your Arizona Desert bush establishes a deep root system you can reduce the water.  Feed your Texas Sage with a general purpose fertilizer before the new growth in spring.

Our Purple Sage Bush alongside a Red Fairy Duster blooming desert plant

It is amazing to wake up and see your desert yard explode with purple flowers and the loud symphony of buzzing bees.  One of the best parts of Monsoon season is the blooming desert plants with our Chihuahuan Sage, Texas Purple Sage, Texas Ranger Plant, whatever you choose to call it, being at the top of our favorites list.

purple sage
Purple Texas Ranger Plant

To grow your sage bush – plant them in full sun with lots of room to grow.  If you prune your Purple Sage, do it in the spring.  They prefer well-drained soils and will rot if given too much water.  There are many different varieties of Texas Ranger Plants (Leucophyllum frutescens), Texas Sage, Sage bushes. Your desert landscaping will look beautiful with these fragrant lavender flowers.

Texas Ranger plant
purple flowering shrubs

In the photo below I included a picture of our Red Fairy Duster plant. Fairy Duster, Calliandra,  is an evergreen, desert shrub that I recommend for people who want plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), low maintenance, hardy, drought tolerant, and provides lovely color next to your sage bush.

White Cloud Texas Tanger Plant
White flowering Texas Sage bush
Purple Sage and Fairy Duster, blooming Arizona Desert plants

Once these desert plants bloom, get your camera and take pictures. The sage flowers do not last long especially if an AZ monsoon rain comes.

Phoenix desert plants purple
Texas Sage
Texas Ranger Shrub
Purple flowering sage bush

   

Bushes with Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers in Arizona – Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

What is the desert bush with Red, Yellow and Orange Flowers?  This common Arizona and Texas desert shrub is called the Red Bird of Paradise.

desert bird of paradise
desert shrubs with red orange flowers
orange and yellow flowering bush
Bird of Paradise bush with orange yellow flowers

The botanical name for Red Bird of Paradise is Caesalpinia pulcherrima, it is a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family.

bean pods on arizona bushes
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise bean pods

This is one of the easiest desert flowering plants to grow and take care of in the Phoenix, Tucson area; along with Texas and California.  It is deciduous (loses its leaves seasonally), but will bloom constantly through the summer.

bushes with yellow orange flowers
Red Bird Of Paradise plants attract butterflies

The Red Bird of Paradise makes a favorable hedge.  The orange and yellow flowers are one of the best plants to attract butterflies & hummingbirds!

 

arizona bush with yellow orange flowers
orange and yellow flowering bushes

 

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bushes with orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise, Pride of Barbados

The Red Bird of Paradise plant is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.  Please note:  when purchasing this plant I have seen it labeled as “Pride of Barbados”.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bush in Tucson
orange and yellow flowers continually bloom in the desert

This desert beauty is very hardy and drought resistant once it’s established; they can have a very long tap-root. With a little mulch at the base, your desert bird of paradise will come back year after year.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
common bushes with red-orange flowers

The leaves are delicate lacy,  fern-looking. You may see this desert plant’s leaves fold up at night,  no worries; it is called Nyctinasty and is completely natural.   Bird of Paradise are fairly fast growers, and can get LARGE, so periodic trimming is suggested. The better water drainage you have the healthier this flowering plant will be.

Some people refer to this orange and yellow desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has only yellow flowers and rounded leaves.  For more Mexican Bird of Paradise info

Tucson flowering bush Pride of Barbados
vivid orange, red and yellow blooms
Orange yellow flowers on Red Bird of Paradise Shrub
Orange flowers on the Red Bird of Paradise Shrub

Check out our article link: If you are interested in growing your own Bird of Paradise plants from the bean pods.

Red Bird of Paradise Bean Pods
Bean Pods and Orange, Yellow Flowers

 

shrub with orange yellow red flowers
young Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Pictured above is one of our young plants we are watering often until their tap-root is well established.

Mexican Bird of Paradise bush
fern looking leaves of the Pride of Barbados

 

Red Bird of Paradise
Orange flowering bush in Arizona and Texas – Red Bird of Paradise

Here are some landscaping ideas to add colors to your garden area. 

Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping.
Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping
purple flowering bush red flowering shrub
Purple Texas Sage and Red Bird of Paradise Bushes

TIDBITS:  The Amazon Rainforest Medicine men had some medicinal uses for Red Bird of ParadiseCaesalpinia pulcherrima. Four grams from the root was used to induce abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.  The bean pods and seeds of the Bird of Paradise plant are toxic / poisonous and will cause abdominal symptoms and vomiting.

Can you grow Bougainvillea in pots? Growing Mandevilla Vines, Dipladenia in Containers

Why doesn’t my bougainvillea bloom?  Bougainvilleas like their roots to be crowded in a pot. If planted in the ground, the Bougainvillea may not bloom as much. If you want more color in your garden, grow your Bougainvillea in containers!  Its vivid color is formed in the three bracts that surround the little white flower.

mandevilla in a container
Bougainvillea vine in a pot

Bougainvillea does well growing on a trellis.  The 2 vines in the picture are a Bougainvillea vine in a pot next to the Mandevilla Vine growing in another container. I trained both vines to continue growing up the trellis.

do bougainvilleas grow in containers
Bougainvillea growing up the trellis

The pictures of these plants growing on our front porch gives you and idea of how happy the Mandevilla Plant is in the large container and how well the Bougainvillea Bush does in a pot.

Bougainvillea flowering bush shrub
Growing Bougainvillea in large pots

To grow your flowering Bougainvillea shrub/vine choose a very sunny place. Be sure your pots have good holes in the bottom, so you will have good drainage. Fertilize with Hibiscus food as it has more potash than many other fertilizers. Be sure to measure exactly the amount of food according to the size of your pot. Bougainvillea comes from a hot humid climate, and they love the heat!

Be sure the dirt in the pot feels dry before you water your bougainvillea. Water large pots until water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom. There are exceptions to watering and caring for your Bougainvillea. Here in the southern Arizona desert we have had some temperatures above 110 degrees F. When I saw any of our plants wilting, including the Bougainvillea plant and Mandevilla vine I watered them. Being very careful not to get water on the leaves so they do not get burned from the Sun!

The Bougainvillea and Mandevilla vines

The Bougainvillea is climbing up the bamboo sticks to the trellis and combining with the Mandevilla vine.

If you want your Bougainvillea to grow up and not out you must trim/prune the stems that grow outwards. Keep them short around the bottom.

I found that the plants we cut back are growing straight up the bamboo garden stakes, look at the picture of our bougainvillea. The Bougainvilleas I do not prune, have many leaves but fewer blooms, color.

During this winter, both the Mandevilla bush/vine and the drought tolerant shrub, Bougainvillea, did ok. The winter temperatures dropped to the mid 30’s.  I removed all the dead leaves.

mandevilla in containers
bougainvillea and mandevilla vines

Bougainvillea is drought resistant, I do not call it drought tolerant because it is not a desert native plant. Bougainvillea are native to South America. This flowering bush or is heat resistant to the extreme. Probably the best heat resistant desert plant is the Bougainvillea.  Caring for and growing a Bougainvillea takes more effort but it is worth it. Note how short I prune the bottom branches of the Bougainvillea in the front pot.

Growing a Mandevilla – traditionally it is called a Dipladenia, but they are different in how they grow and look. For basic purposes they are vines with the Dipladenia growing better as a shrub or bush and being planted in a container or does well as a hanging plant. The Mandevilla is a climbing vine and does well twining and growing on a trellis.

Mandevilla growing up a trellis
Mandevilla, dipladenia vines in containers

Our Mandevilla Vine prefers part shade. It receives bright light but is also partially protected from rain and the Arizona Monsoon season. It is NOT drought tolerant or drought resistant. But the Mandevilla plant is HEAT RESISTANT. Our Mandevilla is doing incredible and growing well in the pot. Please see the attached photos.

mandevilla growing in a pot
In this picture is a Mandevilla Vine growing on a trellis.

It has bloomed continually most of the year. As far as pruning the Mandevilla Plant. I remove the Mandevilla yellow leaves, and trim a few branches that may have died but that is about it. This Mandevilla vine, bush, plant takes very little pruning. Although it is NOT drought tolerant, it doesn’t seem to have any problems with the desert heat as long as I water it every day. If your Mandevilla vine/bush can be planted in part shade… I would recommend this tropical flowering bush for any garden, from planting in Florida to growing in Texas, Arizona and California.

In this picture, we took 4 large trellises bending the top 2 to form the arch. As the Mandevilla Plant grew I used garden tape and ties to gently connect it to the trellis. The Mandevilla vines grow back and forth along the top of  the trellis giving our desert yard a tropical, lush look.  Our trellises were purchased from Home Depot.  http://www.homedepot.com/

Our Chilean Mesquite Tree provides shade for the mandevilla.

Mandevilla is a genus of plants belonging to the Dogbane (attributed to its toxicity) family. Native to South America. It has about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines (any plant with a growth habit of climbing, stems or runners).

The Mandevilla flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and red. The Hummingbirds and butterflies visit our Mandevilla often.  It is a pollen yielding plant that is fast growing and high flowering. In conclusion, Mandevilla is easy to care for as long as it gets watered regularly, has a trellis to climb on, is in part shade and protected from winds and rain.