Pruning Desert Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs – Red, Yellow, Orange Flowers

flowering desert shrubs called Mexican Bird of Paradise

Arizona Desert Bushes with Red Orange Flowers

When should you prune desert bird of paradise shrubs?

Caesalpinia pulcherrima plant with red flowers

Red Bird of Paradise shrubs blooming in the desert

Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise,  Caesalpinia pulcherrima , which is what I have, should be in late winter or early spring.

Arizona bushes with red flowers

Red Bird of Paradise is sometimes called Mexican Bird of Paradise

I pruned mine a few weeks ago with a sharp pair of garden sheers. Many people cut these plants almost to the ground. I don’t, I prune my Red Bird of Paradise bushes about 18 inches from ground level.

Red Bird of Paradise cutting

Trimming Caesalpinia pulcherrima – pruning desert Bird of Paradise bushes

Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes, trees, and shrubs thrive in dry conditions; once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with fern looking leaves blooming with orange, red or yellow flowers.

Texas shrubs with orange red flowers

Red Desert Bird of Paradise, drought tolerant plants

bushes with bean pods orange flowers

Red Bird of Paradise shrub in AZ TX CA Mexico

The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruning.

Caesalpinia gilliesii is a drought tolerant desert shrub

Yellow Bird of Paradise has red stamens and yellow flowers

Caesalpinia gilliesii, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas;  planted as to give an effect of wild growth and may some year be considered native in the rest of the southwestern US.  In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.

TX bush with yellow flowers and bean pods

Yellow flowering 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.

Caesalpinia gilliesii mistaken for Mexican Bird of Paradise

Yellow blooming Bird of Paradise desert bush in AZ TX CA

Yellow Bird of Paradise is drought tolerant and very durable, also cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best for ALL Bird of Paradise Plants.   The yellow bird of paradise shrub is toxic.  

drought tolerant desert bush shrub

Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with Red Stamens bean pods

This Hardy Bird of Paradise shrub can grow to the height of 10 ft.

In the early 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 and tap-root.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree, see photo below.

Bushes with round leaves yellow flowers desert

Mexican Bird of Paradise bush yellow flowers round leaves

desert shrub with yellow flowers in Arizona

Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers round leaves

In the photo ABOVE see the yellow flowers and rounded shape of the leaves on the Mexican Bird of Paradise bush or tree.

Caesalpinia mexicana yellow flowers

Mexican Bird of Paradise tree shrub with yellow flowers

Whether you pick the Yellow, Mexican or Red Bird of Paradise shrubs or trees,  you are certainly choosing a winner for your desert garden!

shrubs with bean pods red flowers

Desert bush with orange red yellow flowers, bean pods

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Mexican, Yellow and Red Bird of Paradise bushes – these plants in Tucson are poisonous – Toxicity information

People have asked me – Is the Red Bird of Paradise toxic?

Poisonous Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise is poisonous

red bird of paradise

caesalpinia pulcherrima – red bird of paradise

Yes all the bird of paradise flowering bushes are poisonous.  The orange and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, make a stunning bush.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima poisonous bush

poisonous Red Bird of Paradise

The Mexican Bird of Paradise tree has yellow flowers that look velvety and delicious!

The Yellow Bird of paradise plant has clusters of yellow flowers with a long red stamen.

But DO NOT eat any part of the 3 Bird of Paradise plants.

All of these gorgeous desert bushes belong to the genus Caesalpinia.

bush with yellow flowers bean pods

poisonous Yellow Bird of Paradise

Caesalpinia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, FABACEAE.  The fruit of these Bird of Paradise desert bushes is a long, flat seed pod.

The bean pods are toxic!  Watch small children and pets around your Bird of Paradise shrubs.

The level of toxicity for the bird of paradise plants is low however, the leaves contain hydrocyanic acid.  The toxins in the bean pods are tannins. The role of tannins in many species of plants is to protect the plant from predators.

Ingesting any part of these bird of paradise plants can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are symptoms of bird of paradise poisoning.

yellow flowering small tree

Poisonous Mexican Bird of Paradise

While the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise plant’s toxins are not life-threatening; however, diarrhea and vomiting can produce dehydration. Those symptoms should be taken seriously and you should seek medical treatment.

 

Yellow flowering bush, tree, shrub with round leaves – native Mexican Texas Plants

What is the small tree with yellow flowers in Arizona and Texas?  Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise is a flowering plant species in the pea family, Fabaceae. This drought tolerant, perennial tree is native to Mexico and the extreme lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

Caesalpinia mexicana

Mexican Bird of Paradise yellow flowering bush tree

bush with yellow flowers round leaves

Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise

All parts of this Mexican plant are poisonous.  The showy Mexican Bird of Paradise plants, shrubs thrive in dry conditions.  Once the roots are established, they are drought tolerant.  The yellow flowers attract hummingbirds!

yellow flowers and round leaves bush shrub arizona texas

Mexican Bird of Paradise, caesalpinia mexicana

If you are looking for a small shade tree that is flowering and easy to care for; the Mexican Bird of Paradise is the best small shade tree for your yard and a good choice for xeriscape desert gardens.

Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Poinciana, does best in full sun.  It is a perennial flowering tree that is drought and heat resistant with rounded leaves and spikes of solid yellow flower clusters.  The fragrant yellow flowers of this Bird of Paradise are very showy and will bloom throughout the year.  The USDA Hardiness Zone is 9.

Texas yellow flowers round leaves bush

Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise Plant

Arizona bush yellow flowers shrub

leaves and yellow flowers of Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Plants

In the photo ABOVE see the rounded shape of the leaves and the yellow flowers.of the native Mexican Bird of Paradise.

The Red Bird of Paradise, - commonly but mistakenly called The Mexican Bird of Paradise, -  has Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers that are seen all over Phoenix, Tucson, Southern Arizona, California and Texas.  See the Picture below.

Bush with red flowers arizona texas

Red Bird of Paradise Orange Red Flowers

The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree, see photo below.

round leaves yellow flowers bush

Mexican Bird of Paradise tree, yellow flowers

Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers round leaves

Mexican Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia mexicana

Yesterday in my travels through Tucson, AZ,  I noticed a Mexican Bird of Paradise small tree on a property that seemed abandoned.  It is unfortunate that this amazing native Mexican plant is not being treasured.  The good news is I noticed young bean pods that I will harvest when they ripen and dry.

PLANT AND GROW – How to grow bird of paradise plants, bushes, shrubs from Bean Pods 

Germinating the seeds for this Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise, flowering tree will be easy!  I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24 hours.  Many people use a damp paper towel.  If you are using the paper towel method to germinate your seeds, if a white shoot appears, plant it – white shoot facing DOWN.

peat pots

To plant and grow your bird of paradise – plant the seed in peat pots, barely cover it.  Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or your choice of a good soil.

vermiculite

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 Mexican, Yellow or 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.

Plants, Bush with Red, Orange and Yellow Flowers in Arizona – Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

What is the desert flowering bush with Red, Yellow and Orange Flowers?  This common Tucson, Phoenix, AZ and Texas desert shrub is called the Red Bird of Paradise.

orange and yellow flowering bush

Bird of Paradise bush with orange yellow flowers

bean pods on arizona bushes

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise bean pods

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.

bushes with yellow orange flowers

Red Bird Of Paradise plants attract butterflies

arizona bush with yellow orange flowers

orange and yellow flowering bushes

The Red Bird of Paradise makes a good hedge.  The Orange and Yellow flowers are one of the best plants for butterflies & hummingbirds!

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bushes with orange flowers

Red Bird of Paradise, Pride of Barbados

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.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima bush in Tucson

orange and yellow flowers continually bloom in the desert

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.

Red Bird of Paradise orange flowers

Red Bird of Paradise orange flowers

Pride of Barbados, flowering bush

orange red yellow flowers on the Red Bird of Paradise

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.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima

bushes with red orange flowers in AZ TX CA

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 rounded leaves.

shrub with yellow flowers and round leaves

round leaves and yellow flowers of the Mexican Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia mexicana

Tucson flowering bush Pride of Barbados

vivid orange, red and yellow blooms

Orange yellow flowers on Red Bird of Paradise Shrub

Orange flowers on the Red Bird of Paradise Shrub

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!

Peat Pots, provides easy transplanting

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.

Red Bird of Paradise Bean Pods

Bean Pods and Orange, Yellow Flowers

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.

shrub with orange yellow red flowers

young Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Caring for your Bird of Paradise plant:

Exposure: full sun,  gets leggy in shade and blooming is reduced

sometimes called the Mexican Bird of Paradise bush

lacy leaves and yellow , orange flowers of the Pride of Barbados

Maintenance:   pruning every year; sometimes pruned to ground in winter, periodic trimming to keep it shaped.

Tucson Phoenix orange flower bushes

Red Bird of Paradise shrubs with orange blooms

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 drought resistant tolerant

Red Bird of Paradise with yellow and orange flowers is drought resistant/tolerant

Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) This plant has lacy leaves that fold up at night & spread open in the sun.

Red Bird of Paradise

Orange flowering bush in Arizona and Texas – Red Bird of Paradise

This large bush with abundant orange and yellow flowers THRIVES in intense heat and looks amazing with cactus, succulents in your landscaping.

Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping.

Ocotillo cactus and Red Bird of Paradise landscaping

purple flowering bush red flowering shrub

Purple Texas Sage and Red Bird of Paradise Bushes

TIDBITS:  The Amazon Rainforest Medicine men had some medicinal uses for Red Bird of ParadiseCaesalpinia 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.

Pruning your Desert Bird of Paradise – Orange, Red and Yellow Flowering Bushes in AZ, TX, CA, Mexico

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 pruningCaesalpinia 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.

Yellow Bird of Paradise

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.

Caesalpinia gilliesii, yellow bird of paradise

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!

Red Bird of Paradise, red, orange and yellow flowers

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.

I took this picture of a large Red Bird of Paradise at the AZ – Sonora Desert Museum. Amazing, Red, Orange with a hint of Yellow color!

 

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.

Peat Pots

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.

Mexican Bird of Paradise, can be pruned into a small tree