About the Journal
2003 Highlights &
Calendar of Events
Things to Expect & Do
An Agave Stalk
Becomes A Nursery
Pruning My Red Bird
Coping with those
Who Am I?
Going Bananas in the
Small Trees for the
in Citrus Leaves
Landscape Water Use
Results are In
Two Citrus Clinics
A S K A G A R D E N E R
Pruning My Red Bird of Paradise
by Judy Curtis,
Question: I notice that some of my neighbors are
pruning back their red bird of paradise shrubs (Caesalpinia pulcherrima). Is
this the right time of year to do this?
Answer: Yes, this is the time of year you begin to see red birds hacked, axed,
and stubbed into all sorts of grotesques shapes. If there were an equivalent to
the SPCA for plants, I would choose to report abusers who deform not only red
birds but Texas rangers (Leucophyllum frutescens) and cassias as well. If asked
why they are pruning, most homeowners will reply, "Because everyone else is."
Consider the following dialogue:
Me: What would happen if you left them
HO: They would look ugly during the winter when the leaves fall
Me: So, do you cut down your shade trees because they lose their
leaves in winter?
HO: No, but the red birds will grow too large.
What is "too large"? If left alone and not over-watered, the red bird is simply
not a large shrub. And its natural growth habit is quite handsome.
In fact, all three of these plants-red birds, cassias and rangers-can survive on
natural rainfall here in Phoenix. I have established specimens of each, and I
seldom water them. I do prune them lightly every couple of years, and I cut the
green pods off of the cassia so I won't have volunteers coming up everywhere.
If you give them a once-a-month soak in the summer and leave them alone from
November through March, they will look good on this watering schedule and not
grow too fast. The need for pruning will be reduced drastically, and you will
save time and money.
So sit back, enjoy them, and let them do their thing.
Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated January 23, 2004
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to Maricopafirstname.lastname@example.org 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092