Powder Puff Tree

Botanical Name: Calliandra haematocephala 

It's easy to see the attraction of the powder puff tree. 

Those bright red fuzzy "flowers" are actually made up of stamens and can grow to 3 in (8 cm) in diameter. Powder puffs are long-lasting and will cover the tree nearly all year, making this a stunning accent in the home.

Calliandra haematocephala needs sunlight, warmth and high humidity to really thrive. If you can meet those requirements, your powder puff tree will do well indoors. A sunroom or greenhouse is an ideal spot for it.

Move your plant outdoors for the warm months, if you want, to give it the sunlight it needs. Just shelter it from hot midday sun. This flowering shrub is a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds.

calliandra, red powder puff plantPowder puff buds kind of look like raspberries before they open.

Repot in spring, moving to a pot only 1 size larger. Want to keep your powder puff tree small? Keep it in the same pot and just top-dress every year.

How to Top-Dress: Remove the top 2 inches (5 cm) of potting mix and replace it with fresh mix. Take care not to harm any roots that may be near the surface.

Calliandra is an evergreen perennial. Its foliage is made up of dark-green, bipinnate leaves, with each leaflet about 2 inches (5 cm) long.

Over time, this shrubby plant will grow into a tree, reaching several feet high and will spread about as wide. You can prune it back hard in spring to keep it to 3 ft (90 cm) tall. It doesn't mind being cut back. In fact, this tree makes a charming bonsai.

Calliandra Buying Tips

Calliandra is a genus that includes about 200 tropical and subtropical flowering plants, shrubs and trees. Red powder puff plant is rare and may be difficult to find in garden centers. Your best bet is to shop for it at online nurseries.

powder puff tree, calliandra haematocephala

Want a smaller plant? Look for dwarf powder puff 'Nana' that is slow-growing and grows to 6 ft (1.8 m). This dwarf variety is easier to keep small with regular pruning. It's a prolific bloomer and makes a beautiful bonsai. 'Alba' is a rare variety with white blooms.

Give this tree what it wants and you'll find it is easy to grow. You'll enjoy it for many years.

Powder Puff Tree Care Tips

powder puff tree, calliandra haematocephala, powder puff plant

Origin: Bolivia (South America)

Height: 10 ft (3 m) or more if not pruned back; dwarf Calliandra grows to 6 ft (1.8 m)

Light: Bright light to full sun year-round. Shade from strong summer sun.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist year-round. Yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering.

Humidity: Moderate to high. Use a humidity tray or room humidifier if air is dry.

Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures 60-80°F/16-27°C. 

Soil: Good-quality, all-purpose potting mix.

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

Propagation: Take 3 in (7.5 cm) stem tip cuttings in spring and root in moist perlite. 

  1. Home
  2. Houseplants A-Z