Plant of the Week
Often called Pride of Barbados. You see these blooming all over town and it never gets too hot for them. They're extremely tough and tolerant, even during drought. We're most familiar with its beautiful orange-red blooms. But you can also find a pink and a yellow version. They're attractive to butterflies they bloom all the way through the season. They don't want to start blooming until it really gets hot, but then they just continue on through the rest of the growing season.
They're fairly hardy. With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year. They produce seeds which will allow you to plant and start new plants if you like.
It's very important that you get the right species, because there are species of Caesalpinia that are native to California that are not as cold tolerant in our environment. Pulcherrima might be evergreen if we have a mild winter, but of course, this winter it would have frozen to the ground. That is also fine, because it is root-hardy to the teens. If it gets lower than that, mulch it heavily and it will still get through winter.
You want to prune these plants to the ground late winter/early spring, even if they remain evergreen. That creates lush foliage, rather than a leggy plant.
It needs very little water; it's tolerant of neglect. So the less you water it, the more you ignore it, the better the plant is going to do.
It's really happiest in full sun; it won't be happy in any amount of shade. It also likes well-drained soil. It can get very large, as tall as 6' in good conditions, and it's usually also about 5-6' wide. It doesn't require any fertilizer. This is one that requires very little care in exchange for fabulous summer and fall flowers! It thrives on neglect, but prune it to the ground in mid-spring, and it'll be a great plant for you.