Plant of the Week: Pride of Barbados

As people visit other parts of Texas I’m asked to identify this plant that they’ve seen in their journeys. It’s one of the showiest of all of our landscaping plants, and everyone wants to have one of their own.

Pride of Barbados in a street median proves it handles heat well.

Its names…
Botanically it’s Caesalpinia pulcherrima.
Pride of Barbados,
Red bird of paradise,
Mexican red bird of paradise,
Dwarf poinciana
Peacock flower (OK – I’ve never really heard that one, but I read it.)

Continued Below


It’s hard to pass up the brilliant orange-red shades of this plant.

Its hardiness and habits…
Evergreen large shrub or small tree in sub-tropical Deep South Texas.
Deciduous shrub in Zone 9.
Returning perennial in Zone 8 (may die to ground).
Annual most years in Zone 7.

How best to use it…
Plan on it growing to 5 to 7 ft. tall.
Full sun, even reflected heat – it’s tough!
Perfect drainage, but not particular as to soil type.
Drought-tolerant, but will respond well to regular watering so long as soil drains well.
Grow where its spines won’t be offensive to pedestrian traffic.
Blooms all summer and well into fall.
Can be started from seed or bought from local nurseries in spring and early summer.
Great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies.

One of my Facebook friends Sandra Keyes posted this beautiful image of a Monarch caterpillar on a pride of Barbados – looking for a milkweed plant, no doubt.

A somewhat hardier species, Caesalpinia gillesii, is known as yellow bird of paradise.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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