EASY CARE FOR ZONE 9a – POWDER PUFF

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

BEHAVIOR

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.

 

HOW TO GET YOUR HANDS ON SOME POWDER PUFF

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

 

PROPAGATION

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

 

PROBLEMS WITH POWDER PUFF

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