What is the desert flowering bush with those Red, Yellow and Orange Flowers? This common Arizona and Texas desert shrub is called the Red Bird of Paradise.
It is one of the easiest desert flowers/plants to grow and take care of in the Phoenix, Tucson area of Arizona, along with Texas, California and throughout the Southwest. It is deciduous (loses its leaves seasonally), but will bloom constantly through the summer.
The Red Bird of Paradise makes a good hedge. The Orange and Yellow flowers are one of the best plants for butterflies & hummingbirds!
The botanical name for Red Bird of Paradise is Caesalpinia pulcherrima, it is a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family. Red Bird of Paradise is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.
Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy, drought resistant, tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots) With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.
The Red Bird of Paradise is a shrub that enjoys full sun and has bright red and orange flowers, with a splash of yellow that grow out of long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy, ferny-looking. It is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming, pruning is suggested. The better drainage you have the healthier this flowering plant will be.
I’ve heard people in Tucson and Phoenix, AZ refer to this orange and yellow desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has only yellow flowers and is larger.
Bird of Paradise bushes are Perennial (you need to plant them only once) and provide vibrant orange and yellow color many times during the year!
To germinate the Red Bird of Paradise seeds, I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24-48 hours. I plant 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, if a white shoot appears, plant it with the white root DOWN. Cover the seeds lightly with damp soil. 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.
Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.
Caring for your Bird of Paradise plant:
Exposure: full sun, gets leggy in shade and blooming is reduced
Maintenance: pruning every year; sometimes pruned to ground in winter, periodic trimming to keep it shaped.
Water: deep irrigation; once per week while blooming; height and growth rate determined by water supply; Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs are drought resistant
Propagation: been pod seed, very ease
Soil: tolerant, good drainage
Hardiness: damaged at 32°F, with increasing damage as temperature decreases
Leaves: fern-like, normally bright green turning red in winter, sometimes leafless in winter
Range: common throughout Sonoran deserts, Arizona, naturalized in Texas
Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) This plant has lacy leaves that fold up at night & spread open in the sun.
This large bush with abundant orange and yellow flowers THRIVES in intense heat and looks amazing with cactus, succulents in your landscaping.
TIDBITS: The Amazon Rainforest Medicine men had some medicinal uses for Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Four grams from the root was used to induce abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. The bean pods and seeds of the Bird of Paradise plant are toxic / poisonous and will cause abdominal symptoms and vomiting.