Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana), also known as the Peacock Flower, is native to Northern Mexico. During warmer seasons, the lush, ferny compound leaves provide a deep green backdrop for the bright yellow flower spikes, which appear on the branch tips. This beautiful plant is a thornless small tree or a shrub. Its blossoms attract hummingbirds. This plant can grow to be ten to fifteen feet (3 to 4.5 meters) tall. This plant is a great air purifier.
Varieties of Mexican Bird of Paradise
There are two types of Mexican bird of paradise:
- Yellow Bird of Paradise – has yellow flowers with long red stamens, drought tolerant.
- Red Bird of Paradise – has red and orange flowers with solid red and yellow cultivars, this variety dislikes northern exposure.
Grow & Care
The Peacock Flower grows best in the climates provided by USDA Hardiness Zones 9 through 11. This Bird of Paradise bush loves warm climates, temperatures over 80 °F (26 °C) are their favorite. This plant can also survive temperatures as low as 18 °F (-7.7 °C). When growing a Mexican Bird of Paradise make sure to remember it can grow up to 15 feet (4.6 meters) tall. This bush goes dormant in the winter when temperatures drop below 32 °F (0 °C). Good drainage is key to helping your Mexican Bird of Paradise thrive.
The Peacock Flower has low watering needs. An easy rule to remember is that you should water this plant once every two weeks. Reduce watering during the winter months and increase watering during spring and summer as that’s the plants growing season. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.
To boost the needed humidity you can mist the plant with regular water. Always water from the bottom so the soil can remain well aerated. If you notice your plant has brown, dry, crispy leaves that might have split in the middle, your plant might be suffering from underwatering. The more you water the more likely it is the bush will flower more frequently. Keep in mind to not overwater the plant.
This mesmerizing bush needs full sun to stay healthy and thrive. It requires six to eight hours of full sun a day, so the best placement in your garden should be in a west-, or south-facing spot. This way it can get the longest possible time of sun in a day.
The Peacock Flower is extremely tolerant of the hot sun and even reflected heat. If you plan on growing this bush indoors, place the pot near a south-facing window so it can get the needed amount of sunlight.
Soil & Fertilizer
The Mexican Bird of Paradise prefers soil with a pH level between 5.6 to 7.8, meaning acidic to slightly alkaline. What makes planting this bush is its tolerance to different soils. It can survive in many different soils, from clay to loam types.
The most important thing you should worry about is the soil’s ability to drain. If the ground it is planted in to has well-drainage soil it will live in it just fine. To help your soil have better drainage you can mix some perlite or sand into it.
This plant is a heavy feeder, especially in spring and summer during its growing season. To encourage blooms you should feed the plant with balanced, slow-release fertilizer every couple of weeks. Because the plant goes dormant, you should stop fertilizing, in the winter.
You should prune this beautiful bush every three to four years. Pruning should be done in January or February. You can prune the plant if you do not like the size, density, shape, or two or three of its biggest stems.
Cutting away two or three of its largest stems every three to four years is a great way of helping the plant stay smaller. Mostly pruning is used to remove dead, frost-damaged, or crossing branches.
Propagation should be done in early spring:
- Use clean and sharp sheers or scissors
- Sever a piece of the rhizome
- If needed, sprinkle rooting hormones on the cuts
- Each division should have a fan with attached roots
- Plant every division into pots with high-quality soil
- Water thoroughly
- Care for it accordingly
The best time for repotting would be in the spring, specifically in March or April. You know you have to repot your plant into a bigger pot when you can see its roots coming through the pot’s drainage holes. Because this plant has extremely sensitive roots make sure to repot only when necessary. Firstly, gently lift the plant out of its old pot.
Remove the old soil and rinse the roots with room-temperature water. To prepare the new pot place a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot, then add a layer of recommended soil. Lastly, place the plant gently into the new pot and fill any empty gaps with the soil. When repotting the new pot should be two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) larger in diameter, so the plant can grow more comfortably.
Luckily the Mexican Bird of Paradise is quite resistant to any diseases, making it an easy-care plant. The only reason you should encounter a disease with this plant is if you don’t provide proper light and water for the plant.
The most common issue might be powdery mildew and root rot. Prune any damaged leaves and use fungicide every ten to fourteen days until the plant has recovered.
Keep an eye on your plant so you could discover the disease earlier and treat it easily. To cure root rot you would need to repot your plant or let it dry out for a couple of days before starting its watering routine back again.
The most common pests would be mealybugs and scales. Bigger pests like snails, slugs, or caterpillars can be picked off by hand. Aphids can be rid of by spraying water on your plant, this will wash away the pests.
Scale and mealybugs can be removed with rubbing alcohol. You can also use insecticide or horticultural oil to rid your plant of these pests. Make sure to keep an eye on your plant to spot the pests earlier and to have an easier removal.
This easy-to-care-for and gorgeous bush is a statement in any garden and living space. The plant is quite large and very decorative with its beautiful colorful flowers. They will always bless you with the most magnificent blooms throughout the year.
Caring for this bush will expand your knowledge of gardening with its easy demands. Make a statement in any space and have a healthy beautiful bush in your garden or home.