Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise plants, shrubs thrive in dry conditions and, once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with ferny-looking leaves with orange, red or yellow flowers.
When do you prune desert bird of paradise? Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) , which is what I have, should be in late winter or early spring. I prune mine in late winter with a good pair of garden shears. Many people cut them almost to the ground. I don’t, I prune my Red Bird of Paradise about 18 inches from ground level.
The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruning. Caesalpinia gilliesii, Bird of Paradise Bush, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalised (planted so as to give an effect of wild growth) in Texas, and fairly common and may some year, in the future, be considered native in the rest of the southwestern US. In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.
This yellow flowering desert shrub has clusters of beautiful yellow flowers with long red stamens. The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a fast growing, upright shrub that is originally from Argentina. Pruning your Yellow Bird of Paradise bush will encourage dense growth. This long-lived, drought tolerant shrub is very durable and cold, heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best for Bird of Paradise Plants. All parts of the yellow bird of paradise shrub are toxic. The Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.
Plant Yellow Bird of Paradise in full sun locations. This desert shrub does fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils. In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems. In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week. Water it deeply to stimulate an effective root system. Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.
This is one of several desert plants that I recommend for people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, relatively drought resistant (I water couple times a week, depending on the temp). When you do water your Bird of Paradise, soak them because the bird of paradise will establish an efficient root system including a strong taproot. They are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide bright color over and over through the year. The Red Bird of Paradise is a winner for your Arizona or desert Garden!
The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large! In this photo ours is a young plant. The bird of paradise is hardy and does well in any soil, but the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be. They look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and pods may be poisonous so be careful your children don’t eat them.
We have 2 Red Bird of Paradise next to our front gate that are small but will grow like a tree or large shrub as they get older. Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots). With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.
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. If you decide to use the paper towel method to germinate your Bird of Paradise seeds, when the white shoot appears, plant them with the white root DOWN. Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite. 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.
I’ve heard people in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has yellow flowers and is larger. Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise. It is larger with larger leaves but can be pruned into a smaller tree.