Planting Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica)
Colorful flowers, attractive foliage, heat tolerance, and wildlife magnet are just a few of the characteristics that describe Baja Fairy Duster. This Mexican native thrives in desert gardens due to its drought tolerance and ability to handle full sun, reflected heat, and partial shade.
One of Baja Fairy Duster’s exciting features is the “feather-duster” shape of the flowers. The blooms occur from spring into fall; in frost-free winters they will continue to flower year long. Their red color attracts butterflies, and hummingbirds and both use this shrub as both a nectar source and as a larval food plant for caterpillars. In short, if you want to attract wildlife to your garden, Baja Fairy Duster is a must-have.
The foliage is made up of tiny medium-green leaves arranged tightly together, creating a lush green look. This lovely shrub adds an attractive green element to the landscape with splashes of red from the flower.
Getting Started Planting Baja Fairy Duster
Plant in soil that drains well and is in full sun or partial shade. Locate Baja Fairy Duster in full sun for maximum flowering.
This large shrub is an excellent choice for use against a wall or fence. I also like to plant it in groups of three and use it to anchor the corner of a property. Pair with desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata), Woolly Butterfly Bush (Buddleja marrubifolia), and Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii) to create a butterfly haven.
Baja Fairy Duster Size, Hardiness, and Maintenance
Baja Fairy Duster grows to approximately 5 feet tall and wide and is hardy to 20 degrees F. This shrub is ideal for low and mid-altitude desert gardens, in USDA Zone 9, where it looks great all year with little fuss.
Freezing temperatures might result in frost damage on outer branches. Prune back in late spring to remove up to half of its outer growth. No other pruning is needed as long as there is enough room for it to grow to its mature size. Alternatively, you can prune by ‘thinning,’ which allows you to keep the overall height while getting rid of old growth. This can be done by pruning one-third of the branches at the base of the shrub. Resist the temptation to prune into a formal shape and allow Baja Fairy Duster to grow into its attractive, natural growth habit.
Pink Fairy Duster
Pink Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) is a close relative, which has pretty pink blooms that appear in spring and fall. It is smaller than its red cousin but is more cold hardy handling temperatures down to 10 degrees F.
Planting Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) can be a great addition to any Southwest landscape. It’s drought tolerance, bright coloring and the fact that it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies has made it a popular choice in both high and low desert climates. Hope you enjoy and happy planting!