Calliandra emarginata is a gorgeous ever blooming plant. It’s a dwarf shrub and can be shaped, pruned and maintained at a smaller size. It can grow up to 3-4′.
This is one of my favorite plants! It’s always covered with beautiful and dainty powder-puff flowers. The color is deep pink, almost red, and it seems to depend on the amount of light the plant is getting.
Winter time the flowers are lighter pink in color, but nevertheless there is an abundance of them. This plant will flower even at low light levels. The best results however come from high light conditions.
Calliandra emarginata originates from the region of southern Mexico, Panama and Bolivia (Zone 10+) . It belongs to the mimosa family. When the sun goes down in the evening, or if there isn’t enough light, the leaves of the plant will fold in. Do not mistake that for a sign of your plant being under-watered.
This plant has medium watering requirements and seems to like drying out slightly between watering. I do have a hygrolon strip though the soil and a reservoir of water for it, and it seems to do really well with that watering set up as well (I will post more about hygrolon soon). Let the soil dry out more between watering it in the winter, to keep a healthier root system, though in the summer you can virtually have the soil moist all the time.
You can read more about watering here.
High light will do best for this plant. I grow this outside in full sun in the summer, and on a western/eastern windowsill during the colder months. It could be grown year round on an east/west/south windowsill. Keep in mind that the size of your windows and weather there are any obstructions matters. So a very large eastern window with plenty of light and no obstructions casting shadows on your plants will be better than a small southern window facing a building.
I have also used daylight LED during the winter months and this plant grows really well under that type of light. Granted, there are more efficient systems which only use red and blue spectrum light, however I am really happy with the daylight LEDs as well. They are close enough spectrum-wise, the prices are going down, very easy to find in any store, and there are plenty of lumens/ Watts. I can also tell the plant is liking it, since it is growing and blooming towards the daylight lamps, and its leaves remain open if I leave the lights on (the leaves fold down when it’s dark).
This plants enjoys humidity, so spraying it regularly (especially in the winter when it’s dryer) will help the foliage look its best, and reduce the risk of getting spider mites and mealy bugs. Humidity of 50% and up is ideal, though as long as you are not at risk of getting bugs on your plant, lower humidity levels won’t harm it.
You can read more about humidity and tips on how to maintain it here.
Soil Type and Fertilizer:
I use a mix of regular gardening soil and cactus/citrus soil. I also like to add bark/perlite or sand for better drainage of the soil. I have not noticed anything specific when it comes to soil requirement for this plant. I use a regular fertilizer during the spring and fall. This plant has low to moderate fertilizer requirements. It’s always better to fertilize at a lower than the recommended concentration, then to use a high concentration of fertilizer. High amounts of fertilizer can burn the root system. A generic balanced fertilizer will do just fine for this plant.
I have successfully managed to propagate this plant through cuttings, though that was a bit harder than for other species that can be propagated this way. I recommend planting the cuttings in moist soil, and keeping the humidity high. For some reason the newly formed roots are very fragile, compared to other plants, and are easily broken off, so you should be very careful when re-potting the newly rooted cuttings.
This plant also makes seeds pods, I have just planed a few and will see how much time it takes for them to sprout and reach a blooming size. Based on what I’ve read, propagating this plant through seeds should be very easy.
Other Care Tips and Personal Observations:
This plant is surprisingly easy to grow, and
extremely rewarding to have. Pruning will help keep the growth dense and you can shape your plant however you like. Re-potting should be done when the plant gets root-bound. I highly recommend this plant! It can be trained into a bonsai, or grown as a shrub on a windowsill, or trained as a small tree.
Besides the beautiful never ending array of flowers, the leaves of this plant are quite attractive. The new growth is orange in color, adding to the beauty of this plant.