For those looking to add a touch of the tropics to their Texas yard, Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is an ideal choice. This tropical shrub or small tree produces beautiful red and yellow flowers in mid-summer that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. With proper care, this plant can thrive in the Lone Star State.
When to plant pride of Barbados in Texas
Pride of Barbados is best planted during spring and early summer when temperatures are warm but not too hot. When planting in the early spring, it’s essential to choose a day without any threat of frost so that the plant has some time to become established. Pride of Barbados does not tolerate freezing temperatures as with most tropical plants.
The pride of Barbados is often thought to be a native plant in Texas, as it’s commonly found growing in Austin and the surrounding area. It has orange and red flowers and is often referred to as a red bird of paradise, poinciana, or peacock flower and grows well in tropical and subtropical regions of America and South America.
Planting tips for pride of Barbados in Texas
The best soil for planting Pride of Barbados is a well-drained, sandy loam with plenty of organic matter. It needs full sun exposure to produce its brightest blooms. To maximize flowering potential, it’s essential to place the plant in a location where it receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.
Before planting, amend the soil with compost and consider adding a slow-release fertilizer that’s formulated for tropical plants. When planting Pride of Barbados, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to accommodate it. Water the plant well and apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the root zone.
When planting Pride of Barbados, it’s important to keep an eye on the soil moisture for the first few weeks. It needs regular moisture during that time to become established. Once established, its roots reach deep into the soil, so it requires less water. In Texas, occasional irrigation is necessary to sustain the plant during long periods of hot, dry weather.
Caring for Pride of Barbados in Texas
Pride of Barbados is a relatively low-maintenance plant once it’s established. It does have some specific care requirements, which are detailed below:
Watering and fertilizer
The plant needs regular watering and fertilizer applications during the growing season to produce an abundance of colorful blooms. It may need supplemental watering during the dry summer months to keep the foliage looking its best.
It’s also important to prune Pride of Barbados regularly. This helps promote new growth and encourages the plant to produce more flowers. Pruning should be done in early summer after flowering has finished. Cut back each stem by about a third or remove any branches that are damaged or crossed over.
Pride of Barbados is a tropical plant that does well in warm areas and thrives in the southern Texas climate. It can be planted in the spring or fall so that the plant can become established without being affected by extremes of temperature.
With regular watering, pruning, and occasional fertilizer applications, Pride of Barbados will reward you with its showy blooms for many years to come. It’s a great way to add a touch of the tropics to your Texas yard!