Calliandra haematocephala or “Powderpuff’s” are cheerfully plump shrubs that typically grow for many years.
One of the unique features of this beautiful plant is that it has one species that blooms in the winter and others that offer blooms from the spring to fall.
Calliandra are a tropical or sub-tropical plant, so you’ll normally see them in southern states like Florida, where it rarely freezes, and the humidity keeps the plant moist.
However, when grown outside of warm, tropical regions, the plants fare best as indoor plants placed near a sunny window.
The plant originated in the Americas in the South American country of Bolivia and was eventually brought to other countries throughout South America.
Today, it’s a popular plant in the United States and is sometimes called the “snowbird tree” when it blooms in the winter.
Quick Facts On Calliandra Haematocephala
- Family: Fabaceae
- Light: Bright light to full sun
- Temperature: 55° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit
- Water: Frequent watering in the warmest months
- Fertilizer: Feed during the warm growing season
- Propagation: Stem tip cuttings in early summer
- Common Problems: Aphids, mealybugs, mold
Calliandra Haematocephala Care
How Big Do Powderpuff Plants Grow?
Calliandra haematocephala can grow to become a large and rather bulky plant, but they can also grow in a pot with no adverse effects.
Outside, you might see a powderpuff grow to a height of 15′ feet, but they require regular pruning to grow to such a height.
In most cases, your outdoor Calliandra haematocephala will grow to about 6′ feet in height when left to grow at its own pace outdoors.
You’ll commonly see them pruned to about four feet when used as landscaped bushes outside a home.
A dwarf powderpuff is an excellent choice for a container garden, and you can place them in a 12″ inches container in a window or on a sunny front porch.
The flowers alone can grow up to 3″ inches in diameter, and they cover the plant during the blooming season.
What Are the Lighting Needs And Temperature Requirements?
Make sure your Calliandra gets lots of sun, indoors or in the yard.
If you plan to grow them on the side of your house, try to choose the southern side of your home.
They prefer a temperature of about 55° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit but won’t enjoy a shady north-facing wall except for a few months in the summer.
The same wisdom applies to Calliandras grown indoors. Try to give them as much light as possible.
They prefer bright direct sunlight on a windowsill rather than the diffused light you might find in the middle of a room in your home.
If it gets hot in the summer where you live, move your plant outdoors to maximize the sunlight.
How And When To Water And Fertilize Powderpuff Plants?
Calliandra love frequent watering in the summer since it’s their main growing season.
However, if you occasionally forget to water your indoor houseplants, simply give the plant a good soaking at least once a week.
A heavy soaking is just as effective as shorter, more frequent watering.
You can water it semi-frequently in the spring and fall but cut back significantly on the amount of water you give the plant in the winter.
The same wisdom applies to fertilizing. Feed the powderpuff plant regularly in the summer, but reduce the frequency or even halt the feeding in the winter.
What Is The Best Soil For Calliandras And When Should You Transplant?
Calliandra haematocephala fare best with a fast-draining soil mix. The pH of the soil should range from 6.0 to 7.5.
The key to a happy Calliandra is to ensure you get soil that you can keep moist, but that won’t hold onto water and encourage mold growth.
Transplanting should occur in the spring or early summer.
You can transplant them every year if you wish, and they respond fine to repotting annually when they’ve outgrown their pots.
You can use the opportunity when repotting to change the shape of growth of your Calliandra.
For example, you can train them to grow up a trellis if you put them outside.
Do Calliandras Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?
The only truly important thing to remember about keeping Calliandra happy is that they like moist soil and a lot of sunlight.
If you grow a Calliandra outside and it reaches several feet tall, you’ll find that it’s a little more tolerant to drying out than it might be otherwise.
However, a large Calliandra doesn’t mean you can completely forget about the watering cycle.
Your Calliandra will give you the most blooms when you’re liberal with the watering can and give it the sunlight it needs.
As long as you meet these two standards, it’s not hard to grow a powderpuff.
How To Propagate Calliandras?
Propagating powderpuffs are handled through tip cuttings. It’s relatively easy to grow new plants from cuttings, as long as you cut the stems at the right time and keep them very moist and hot at the start of propagation.
The best time to start propagating is when the plant is growing at its fastest, which usually means the summer.
Here’s how to do it:
- Take the cuttings about 6″ inches long and remove the foliage from the lower part of the stem.
- Remove any oversized leaves.
- Place them in a ventilated plastic bag over a pot of peat moss and wait for roots to appear before transporting them to a pot.
NOTE: Powderpuffs can also be started from seeds. However, to get the seeds to “pop” faster they are often soaked for several weeks.
Powderpuff Pest And Diseases
Like many plants, Calliandras are vulnerable to infestations of mealybugs and aphids.
You’ll want to keep a close eye on your Powderpuffs in the summer when they grow fast because these bugs enjoy feasting on new growth.
Other risks to your Calliandras are mold and mildew, which are often a concern in the summer when frequent watering can lead to an overly moist environment.
Don’t sacrifice watering your Calliandras to avoid mold. Simply keep an eye on the plants and ensure there is no standing water on the soil.
Is The Calliandra Haematocephala Plant Considered Toxic Or Poisonous to People, Kids, Or Pets?
Calliandra Haematocephala is not toxic to animals or humans.
They’re very safe to have indoors when you have curious pets that enjoy investigating your potted plants.
Suggested Calliandra Haematocephala Uses
Calliandras are impressive when they grow into a shrub or up a trellis outside your home, but they’re also a beautiful addition to your indoor plant family.
Their vibrant and colorful “poofy” style of blooms is a wonderful choice when you want a unique look for your yard or home.
The main part of Calliandra haematocephala care to remember is that they don’t enjoy the cold, and freezing temperatures will kill them.
So while they might not fare well in your yard if you live in a northern state like Illinois, you can still grow them in a window with ample sunlight.
They enjoy regular food and water when the weather is warm, and it’s their primary growing season.
So in the winter, even if you’re in a location where it’s still relatively warm, reduce your watering frequency and stop feeding, especially when the weather dips to its coolest levels.
They can tolerate shade when they’re outside, but they love as much sun as the day offers.
You’ll notice they grow fast and bushy when given a hot and humid environment.
Try a window in a bathroom if you’re placing your Calliandra haematocephala pot inside.