'Phoenix' bird or paradise

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Hello DG community,

After a visit to St Maarten in the Caribbean last winter, we saw and fell in love with the Caesalpina Pulcherrima; Pride of Barbados.

Imagine our pleasant surprise when we found it could grow here in Tampa, and that we were in need of doing some serious landscaping at our new home at the time. It's really what started the gardening bug in me!

Fast forward to May, I ordered some seeds for the red/orange, of which I've successfully managed to get 4 healthy 2 foot plants to date. (no blooms yet) Being impatient for that wonderful color, I also ordered a few mature plants which arrived and went into bloom literally weeks after arriving (in INTENSE may/june sun and heat here)

Through further research, I found the pink, lemon lace, and yellow varieties and thought I had died and gone to heaven, that is until the yellow I ordered turned out to be the C. mexicana. pretty, but not Amazing like the others.

Then, I started to see the Phoenix bird of paradise, and was awestruck by the deep orange/yellow/gold almost sunset color to them. With 2 spots that still needed 'something' in the yard, I began my search for them. Is this plant the most difficult thing to find here in FL or what? I have been in contact with growers in AZ, and none ship here, and the plant seems to be some kind of secret that Arizona wants to keep to itself. (???)

Question (long way around, I know) Is it truly different than the 'flava' and 'aurea' cultivars with just a fancy name? Are the colors truly as different, or are they all one in the same?

All plants in this family seem to be scarce around here, as i've only seen the Royal Poinciana trees around, but not any of the dwarfs.

Any comments/suggestions are welcome, and thanks for reading this long post!

Phil

Image attached not mine, but fair use from internet sites.

Thumbnail by pk33635
(Zone 9a)

What a lovely collections of plants you have already aquired. Pleae post pictures when that rainbow of flowers bloom. I have a caesalpina that is quite healthy and had reliably returned for man years but it must be a bit too cold here, I have never seen it flower.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Phil, I have a red/orange C.pulchirimma planted a year ago that has bloomed and put up new shoots, despite the two hard winters we've had. See pic. I got it at Home Depot, would you believe?

There are lots of the full-size trees around here with the red or yellow flowers but I've only seen one dwarf type like mine in bloom. Looked like it had been severely pruned but it was a lovely shape and a real sight to behold in full bloom.

When I was buying mine, they also had some plain orange or yellow ones, but I liked the two-tone flowers better. No idea if the others were your Phoenix cultivar. But I'd advise you to go to a good nursery in your vicinity and ask somebody knowledgeable (usually the owner is the best person) if they can find one for you. They have resources that aren't available to us. I can't believe that amongst the thousands of nurseries in Florida you couldn't find that plant! Plus just think of the shipping costs you'd save if the local nursery gets it for you. It's always good to support your local businesses, as well jmho.

Cheers Elaine

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Ardesia...I definitely will! It's a race against the clock right now to see if the pink or lemon lace will bloom before Nov/Dec...I'm not counting on it as those 2 plants are both just about 2.5 feet high right now, and the sun is racing south daily. I do have the red/orange/yellow going strong now (pics below)...will have to pray and protect over the winter to get the rest to blooming next spring! From what I've read, I think that I can expect them to start doing so April or early May.

Elaine...I have a combo of seed-grown and bought, totalling 10 plants right now. The ones I bought came from Sarasota and Port Charlotte..so, kind of local. The 'Phoenix' cultivar, from the research I've done is patented to a grower in Arizona and just hasn't seemed to be widely distributed east yet. That, and this plant seems to go by so many aliases/names/varieties it is astounding!

The plain orange would be a great complement to the rest, and as near as I can tell, sounds close to the phoenix colors (yellow/orange)

I also found a picture from Singapore of a variety with yellow flowers and orange stamens...ahhhh! I'll run out of planting space before I find them all! lol

other differences i've noted...some are a nice mix or orange/red and are thorny, while others are without thorns, predominantly red/yellow and have a blue/green tint to the leaves, as well as a red tint to the stems. I'm conducting a botany experiment that I hadn't signed up for!

pic is of my one orange/red/thorny one going nuts on the south-facing side of the house. I've had 2 neighbors stop and ask me what it was, and say how different and beautiful it is.

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Here are pics of the one I mentioned from Singapore.

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

and, because i'm lame and have nothing better to do today, here are some pics of the rest of the plants mentioned, and the placement of them. (Because I know you wouldn't sleep tonight not knowing lol)

Front of house, south facing.

from front to back,
Red/orange C. pulcherrima seedling that has struggled in the heat/rain/wind. planted in May...bad timing.
next, the pink which is doing much better and much fuller
3rd, a C mexicana...which I ordered as C. pulch. var flava...but this is what came. oh well...
4th...the 'big daddy' pictured above

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Next, on the side of the house which faces west/northwest, are 3 more.

These are the 2 C. pulch that are thornless, with more reddish than orange flowers and the 2nd C. mexicana that was mis-labled as yellow C. pulch. also here is where the red tint in the leaves and stems occurs. odd

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

And finally...(I swear!)

Here are the 2 in the back yard, north-east facing that I stuck in between some red hibiscus where a hole was from a bush that died in the winter of 2010. The one on the left is lemon/lace, and on the right orange/red. Both with thorns, and totally green coloring on all leaves/stems.

**side note...as the side and back of the house borders the pool, has anyone had any luck protecting their plants by keeping the pool heated to say 70-75 all winter? the plants are all about 6 feet away from the pool edge.

Thumbnail by pk33635
Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Phil they all look wonderful. I'm going to start some from my seeds after seeing your success.

I'm a bit worried about how close together you've planted the babies, though. They look fine now, but by next summer you're going to have a really gorgeous multi-colored hedge! If you want them to be 'specimen' shrubs they need to be at least 10ft apart. Also the big daddy is awfully close to the house there! Root incursion into your irrigation system or under the slab in future years will be an issue. Need to keep big shrubs and trees at least 5ft. away from the house.

Yes, my pool does create a bit of a 'micro-climate' around it in winter. We don't heat it but it stays fairly warm from the sun because it has a dark finish. Still, at 6ft. away from the pool your little plants aren't going to get much heat. Keep some old towels handy for the cold nights this winter!

My plant has survived the last two cold winters without any protection, though. It's on a northeast fence corner exposed to the cold winds, too.

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

In zone 10a you shouldn't need to worry about them surviving--they're supposed to be hardy to zone 8 so even your coldest nights shouldn't be a problem.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Sure, but it's the diff between survival and thriving. They do a lot better if you can grow them somewhere without any frost in the winter - like down the Keys, out on the barrier islands or . . well, St. Maarten where Phil discovered them.

Mine would be a 10ft. tree instead of a scrawny 7ft shrub if it hadn't been hammered by two record cold winters right after planting. I wish I'd covered it. Veggies & fruit trees took priority, unfortunately.

We're predicted to have a more 'normal' winter this year. Here's hoping!

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

@dyzzy/Elaine...lol...'big daddy's root ball is planted @ 4ish feet from the house. But when the summer t-storms started in June, well the wind whipping between the houses out of the south knocked daddy down several times. Try as I did to keep him upright, he laid at a 45 degree angle and seemed to be no worse for the wear. True, it looked kind of funny but I figured I'd let nature take its course. turns out, 3 new 'power' stems came out from what would have been the straight 'base' stem and filled the area better than I could have hoped and increased the flowering 2 fold! happy accident? maybe!

As far as specimen planting..heck i'm a rookie and I just want the blank space filled in! the people that we bought the house from took out every single plant that was in the yard except the larger trees & palms (???) I like the idea of a mish-mosh of orange/yellow/red/pink all blending in. I intend to keep them at around the 5 feet mark by pruning every Jan/Feb. Plus, the 'flower fence' part is attractive as we live on a golf course and all the lookie-loos who make our dogs bark will be more blocked out! I've been an apartment dweller most of my adult life, so at 40 to become a homeowner with land to plant on...arrrgh! i'm drunk with power! lol

Do your C. pulch defoliate in the winter? how long does yours bloom? and how in the heck are you Zone 9B 50ish miles south? When I signed up here I put in my zip and the zone it gave me was 10A...I'm about a mile and a 1/2 from Tampa Bay...maybe thats it..?

@ecrane...I'm only cautious as this will be all of the plants' 1st winter, and while true it doesnt get mega cold here, all my babies went into the ground between May and July this year...you see how small some are. We do get dangerously close to 30 on a few nights here.

Last winter wasnt bad at all, but I'm still leary after the gauntlet winters of 08-09 and 09-10!

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Phil, the zone lines are based on average temps so they're very arbitrary. i.e much more of a guideline than a rule. They run sort of parallel with the coast along this area. I am about the same distance from the water as you, but it's the Intercoastal Waterway. We're over 2 miles from the Gulf. Our barrier islands here in Sarsaota - Siesta, Longboat, Anna Maria etc. - are all zone 10. We are a bit colder in winter and warmer in summer because we're not getting the sea breeze as soon as those closer. East of I-75 is zone 9b so it gets colder faster as you go inland here. Tampa Bay is a much bigger expanse of water so probably keeps your 'average' temps up a few degrees in winter.

For that matter, a zone 10 designation in California is a lot different as far as what plants you can grow than a zone 10 in Florida. They have dry air, colder water along the coast, rocky soil, mountainous terrain, droughts, fires, and air pollution that makes it a different ball game than we have here with our high humidity, clear air and strong sun most of the year. Lots of plants that say 'full sun' on the labels really like some shade in the summertime here in Florida. eg. My roses have found their way to the south side of the bamboo clump so when the sun is low in winter, they get full sun, but when it's overhead in summer the bamboo leans over them and shades them in the middle of the day. They are so much happier!

Then, of course, you get 'micro-climates' around your house which make all the difference to your plants anyway. The south side of my house is firmly in zone 10 and in winter everything keeps blooming, but the back yard on the north side is cooler, especially after a cold front when the wind is out of the north. That's where I grow my veggies and fruit trees, and it's a tent city on the cold nights.

So, I don't put too much faith in zone designations. The challenge is to plant the right plant in the right place. If you push the climate envelope a bit, such as with a tender tropical like our C.pulch's you do need to be prepared to protect them on the odd cold night if you don't want them to be set back. Some extra mulch over the roots is always a good idea, and as I said, keep the old towels, sheets, cardboard boxes or whatever will insulate your plants on the few cold nights we normally get. Just don't use plastic - it traps moisture, and if it sits against the leaves they will get frozen then burn if the sun hits them. It's not a good insulator.

G'night Elaine

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Elaine...

interesting stuff, and good tips, thanks! Am especially encouraged to hear your POB returns as happy as it looks being on the NE side of your yard. How late does yours bloom for you? I'm hoping they go until Thanksgiving at least, as it seems the big chill usually doesnt arrive til December around here.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

It does vary, Phil. Mostly dependent upon the weather. As soon as the nights start to be cool, some time in October usually, that stops the summer growth, and the setting of new buds along with it. If you have healthy new flower scapes near the end of October I'd say there's a chance it will still be blooming at Thanksgiving.

Mine's only been through two winters, and as you said, last year we got a real chiller in December, but often the coldest nights are late in January. We can only hope the forecast for a warm and dry winter will pan out.

That poor plant was engulfed by a rampant passion vine until about 3 weeks ago, so it would actually look a lot better if I had taken care of it. It's outside the back fence, so sort of 'outa sight, outa mind' you know? I'm definitely taking better care of it from now on, considering how well it has responded to being rescued.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

I have had good luck with Caesalpinia here is S. Tampa. It doesn't like winter at all.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

I see it growing in some yards, but, only rarely. It doesn't live long here because of the winter cold. The picture belowe was taken 2 years ago and the plants shown are now smaller then in the photo.

It makes a lot of seed, but, never seems to reseed itself without help.

Lowe's on S Dale Mabry has them in 5 gals for $50 plus tax - over priced I think.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Hey Dale!
nice to see a fellow Tampa person here, and with such nice specimens! its going to be heart breaking seeing what winter does to my plants...but what can you do?

I ordered mine online, and paid a whole lot less than $50...I think $20 was the most i paid for the larger 3, and the smaller ones were only $5. the downside...having to wait and see if they bloom...but, its been fun watching them grow this summer.

your yellow and red look great together, cant wait til next year to see all mine put on a similar show!

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Phil, the weather is the biggest challenge to gardeners. All you can do is be vigilant if we get cold nights, and cover them at night. Cardboard boxes are excellent, and anything made of cloth is fine. What you are doing is trapping the warmth from the ground around the plant, so it works best if you can put maybe a little stake in the middle but weight down the edges to keep the drafts away from the plant- like a tent. Weights keep the cover from blowing off if it's windy, too. But you must remove the coverings during the day as long as the plants have green leaves. They need the sunlight so they can continue to grow slowly and support themselves through the winter. Adding a little extra depth of mulch helps keep the ground and the roots warm, too.

If you're going to be away and cold weather is anticipated, you should invest in some proper 'frost cloth' from the nurseries, or I got mine online. It lets the light in during the day but protects from cold air at night. That way you could go away for a week or two and not come back to dead plants.

If you succeed in preventing any setback during the winter, they will reward you handsomely next year. But I really think even if they were completely killed back to the ground, they would very likely come back. This winter is supposed to be "warmer and drier" - let's hope!

For right now, a light dose of slow-release fertilizer, and don't forget to water them a little bit extra when the weather is warm and dry through November.

Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

I don t have one but a neighbor does and we have wild parrots and macaws (I think from hurricane Andrew that destroyed some aviaries) they LOVE those seeds.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Hey elaine,

wow, can't believe a month has gone by since i've been here. been outside a lot with the cooler weather, battling an areca palm clump and chasing around maple leaves from tree next door.

I do hope they're right about winter...it's been pretty cool here for October...I dont think it hit 90 once all month, which as you know is common. I do still have some flowers going tho...but no new shoots coming out. I really hoped the pink would put out, as it grew from about 6" tall in July to well over 3 feet now. ah well...

I will go on your words "even if they get killed back, they will very likely come back" but if not, ive got a bunch of seeds and will start over again! I'm sure the ones on the south side will do fine, like you said about your S facing things that bloom all winter a couple posts back.

Hope all is well for everyone!

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi Phil - my red/yellow one on the NE corner is still blooming, too. I've eased back on watering since the nights got cool, and won't fertilize again now until late February. Still regularly water, since it's dry between weather fronts, just not very much. Except the annuals that I grow from seeds to keep a bit of color going, and my veggies, of course are heavy drinkers.

If you want to interplant something, now is a good time to put in some nasturtium seeds for winter color. They're the same color palette as your C.pulch'es, too. They'll flower all winter, until about May unless we get a real frost. Then you can just yank them, having only invested a couple of bucks for a packet of seeds. Plant around your little trees, where you're watering a bit anyway, and then if you cover the trees against cold the nasties will be covered, too. They're my fav's for winter fill-in as the flowers are so pretty, and they're fairly drought tolerant as well.

Keep fingers crossed for a warm winter! Cheers Elaine

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
FU, United States(Zone 9b)

I ordered a dwarf red/orange Poinciana tree but received the tree that blooms yellow flowers instead. It is very very touchy.
If it gets too much water too frequently, the leaves turn yellow, ... if it does'nt get frequent enough water the leaves fall off, ... if it gets too little sunlight the leaves won't open up, etc etc. What a pain.
And in winter, (even though I brought it indoors on nights that got down to 34 degrees, it decided to lose 95% of it's leaves and flowers.)

The "regular" red/orange Poinciana tree will eventually grow to about 40 feet high and wide, but all Poinciana trees hate winters and cold temps and will lose their leaves for "many many many" months after a cold spell.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

LF, sounds to me like your tree wants to be planted in the ground. These are not meant to be pot subjects.

The 'touchy' symptoms are most likely because it's in a pot, so not insulated well from temperature changes. It's totally dependent on you for water and fertilizer and if it's getting root-bound it would be easy to over- or under-water. It needs to establish a big, widespread root system to stabilize itself.

My dwarf red one does lose its leaves when it's cold, but it lasted a long time into winter last year, and has bloomed like crazy for 4 months this year and still going. I'll post a new picture of it as soon as it stops raining. It's gorgeous, and very easy care for me. A handful of pelleted fert in spring and fall, and some regular water when the weather's dry, plus refresh the mulch; that's all I've done for it in two years. I did plant it right away, into its permanent spot.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Just took this picture - it's almost finished blooming. Cold nights stop any new growth which is where the flowers happen.

Doesn't look like mine's going to last until Thanksgiving with flowers, sadly.

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Elaine,

thanks for the great idea about the 'nasties!' stopped and bought a couple packets the other day. You are right, they will def give that same warm weather color while the POBs sleep it off!

Your picture pretty much mirrors whats going on here...last couple flower buds are open, and there's a whole lot of seed pods everywhere. Interestingly, even tho no new flowers are coming up, there are quite a few places where new leaves and stems are popping out all up and down the main stems. And, they are almost purple!

LoveForests, I agree with what Elaine said about putting yours int he ground. Mine all LOVED all the rain we had during July/Aug/Sept, and are still a lush green even with cool weather and less hot sun. Maybe when Feb rolls around, find a permanent home for it and plunk it in. Also, if you feel like growing a red/orange the hard way, lord knows i've got the seeds over here across the bay!

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

I got some heirloom seeds of a lovely dark red variety of nasturtium last fall. I love this shot where the stamens look like little candles.

Thumbnail by dyzzypyxxy
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

..'nasty' seedlings poking up thru the dirt as of this afternoon. planted them 1 week ago today, surprised to see them already!

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

This is prime time for Nasturtitums....

Time to get the Cyclamen in too, if you can find them....

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Wow! Dale those cyclamen are simply gorgeous! Where'd you get those?

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

I get them at the Commissary on base, the 'floral department'.

Once in awhile you see them at retailers, but, the are usually overpriced. And they don't know how to care for them at most nurseries.

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
(Zone 9a)

I have found them at WalMart. In a normal winter, unlike last year, I can carry them over for 2 maybe 3 years before they decline. They die down in spring and re-emerge in the fall. After last winter I am afraid to try them this year. I think it is too warm for the hardy cyclamen but one of these days I will gamble.

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

hi 'threadmates'

got a nice surprise today while out doing a little yard tour...looks like the pink POB is going to bloom! I'd kind of quit hoping and looking as its gotten later into fall, but guess this goes along the lines of the watched pot never boiling =)

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

looks like 3 buds in total are coming up

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

last few flowers and a lot of seeds on the orange, and the yellow has been blooming pretty much non stop since september. the yellow C. mexicana flowers dont seem to last as long, and the whole stem opens almost at same time versus gradually like the orange.

Thumbnail by pk33635
Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

finally, thanks again Elaine/dyzzy for the suggestions on nasturtiums. I love the round leaves! have a few 'colonies' like this around the yard

Thumbnail by pk33635
Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Phil, it will be interesting to see if next year when all your bushes bloom, they cross pollinate. You might collect some seeds next fall that have different characteristics than any of the original bushes.

On the nasties, I hate to rain on your parade here a little, but you do need to thin those seedlings so that they're maybe 4in. apart, or they'll crowd each other too much and not grow well. It's the hardest thing a gardener has to do, to pluck out baby plants. Sometimes if you're very careful, you can transplant them, though. IF you want to expand your colony a bit.

Cheers Elaine

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

Transplants...or eat them, they are very tasty.

I can't remember if there are nasturtiums in this bed and the thumb nail is too small to see clearly>

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Dale, you're so right, nasty leaves make nice salad greens if you like a little bit of a peppery taste.

There's a wonderful clump of them at the far left end in your picture above. Look like my favorite pale yellow ones, maybe. What a pretty flower bed!

Tampa, FL(Zone 10a)

oyyy vey...I thought these were going to be tiny little things...lol then I see Dale's picture and they are the biggest plants in that bed! I just dont think i've developed my 'visionary' eye for gardening yet. I can't imagine what things will look like past next week. lessons...lessons...lessons.
elaine, when you suggested them and I did a little research, none of the pictures I came across looked like Dale's! well...i'll see where it goes. and, i will play godzilla and do some colony destruction. funny thing about that spot, i had about 4 packs of seeds and by the time i got there I was over trying to find good places and pretty much dumped the rest of the seeds along that border. they also germinated far better and faster than I expected.

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