Post last updated: January 7th, 2019

Calliandra haematocephala is a perennial shrub commonly called Red Powder Puff. A member of the mimosa family, it has 140 different species with red, pink, white, and a pink/white bloom. The woody, multi-trunked branches thin out to vines which form a canopy. The leaves are light-green in color and 2 to 4 inches in length. It forms 3 to 6 inch reddish-colored seed pods. It prefers moist, fertile soil but can tolerate poor soil. Plant it in full sun.

Without question, this is my favorite shrub at the Southern Rural Route. It graces the flower bed (planted in the ground) at the southern corner of my front porch. I am delighted by the mimosa-like blooms and the way the buds look before it blooms. And the bugs! I stand at the railing of my porch and gawk at all the bugs and critters who hang out on it.


Flowers on left; raspberry-like flower buds on right


New leaves look coppery pink


From Borneo, it is considered winter hardy in USDA Zones 9-11. Colder zones can grow it in containers and move it to inside shelter during the winter.

The Powder Puff blooms until the first freeze in Zone 9. Whether you cover it or not, the leaves freeze and turn brown. I cut it back to 4-inch stubs after the winter. It loves humidity and quickly returns to being a 3 or 4-foot shrub. Further south, it reaches 8 to 10 feet.


Whether you cover it or not, it freezes.



It shows up periodically at the big box stores but you are more likely to find it at an independent nursery.



It can be propagated with stem tip cuttings. Visit The Garden Helper for great instructions.



It is not affected by pests. However, it is a critter magnet of epic proportions. In the summer, it is covered with bees, butterflies, dirt dobbers, grasshoppers, hummingbirds, all kinds of moths and skippers plus other flying critters I can’t identify.


One bee out of hundreds on the Powder Puff


Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly
Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly


Polydamas Swallowtail butterfly (he was uncooperative)


Long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus)


Eastern Lubber Grasshopper


23 thoughts on “EASY CARE FOR ZONE 9a – POWDER PUFF”

  1. Great photos I’ve been wanting to grow this in my FL garden, which I may not have anymore in a few more hours, after Irma passes through. Hope you get through Irma safely. I’ll keep you in my prayers. xo kim

    1. Thank you so much! My anxiety has been up for days. First, I wasn’t going to clean house because, why bother, if my house is going to be blown away. Then I realized I wouldn’t have electricity for a WEEK afterward so I did some cleaning.

  2. Ok now I’m confused as to what I bought thinking it was a powderpuff tree. Blooms are red and perfectly round. However the leaves are narrow and fold up when the sun goes down. Any idea what I have?

    1. Farmpest – It may have been LABELED powder puff but something quite different could be in the actual pot. Happened to me this summer with a coneflower. I got that invasive Mexican Petunia instead. As soon as it bloomed and I realized it, I dug that sucker up and threw it in the trash. You can post it on Google to get it identified. There are instructions on the web for how to do that. Are you at your son’s house? I have successfully transferred Whiskey to Susan’s garage. I got Zorro all the way to the back door but when I had to use one hand to open the door, he escaped and took off faster than lickety split, over the berm and probably through the hole in the fence. I’ve called him. I will be sad if he dies in the hurricane but I was TRYING to protect him and if he can’t trust me after 4.5 years, then he will have to weather the hurricane outdoors.

    1. Blondie — Our city had “historic” flooding. Last time it flooded anything like this was 1864 but the Southern Rural Route, at 39 feet above sea level, did just fine. The hardest part of a hurricane is always the loss of power afterwards and the yard clean-up. Power was restored today (Thursday) and clean-up will probably take another week; a month for the City to pick it all up.

  3. Hi! I’ve seen this Red Powder Puff in a botanic garden. It can’t grow here in the soil, because my zone is 5a. It’s a pity! I’d love to have it in my garden as well. Your photos are pretty especially of grasshopper. Happy day!

  4. Hi, Linda, I am glad you are OK after Irma! I have seen the Powder Puff plant only in the large glass conservatory at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and I am so impressed that you can grow it in your garden! I loved your photos of the butterflies. (The grasshoppers less so, because I unfortunately have an irrational fear of them!)

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