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How to Care for Bonsai: Powderpuff Tree (Calliandra haematocephala)

Calliandra haematocephalaThis small tree or bush is evergreen and a member of the legume family with bipinately compound leaves that close up at night or during times of drought. In spring and late summer raspberry like buds growing in the leaf axils open into powderpuff-like flowers made up of a multitude of long colorful showy stamens. Leathery seed pods follow the flowers, bursting open when ripe and then curling up. The dwarf variety ‘nana’ is especially suitable for bonsai because of its slow growth and more frequent blooming.

Position: Powerpuff Trees need bright light, plenty of air circulation and cool temperatures. Never place them near a heat source. It can be grown outdoors but does not tolerate frost and must be taken indoors if temperatures fall below 40o F. If grown outside, select a partially shaded area.

Water: Keep evenly moist and water less in the winter months. Plants appreciate high humidity so growing on a pebble tray can be beneficial.

Fertilizer: Fertilize every two weeks during the growing season using a high phosphorous fertilizer to encourage blooming. Do not fertilize during the winter.

Repotting: Repot every 2 years in the spring, pruning the roots at the same time.

Soil: Loam, sand, peat moss in equal proportions; good drainage is important especially in winter.

Pruning: Prune during the active growing season in mid spring and summer. When new shoots have 5-6 leaves they can be cut back to leave 1-2 leaves.

Wiring: Old branches are brittle and easily broken; young branches can be wired in summer.

Propagation: Seed, cuttings in mid spring

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