Contrary to its delicate name, the pink powder puff tree – Calliandra surinamensis – is a tough, low maintenance tree, widely grown for its brushlike flowers, withstanding challenging conditions, including drought and heat.
Care is minimal for all Calliandra species and cultivars, if they are grown in a sunny location with fast draining soil.
However, this petite, fast growing tree will produce a better display of flowers and live a longer, healthier life, if watered and lightly fed, particularly if grown in a pot.
They need regular watering when young, but can withstand long periods of drought with no water, once mature.
Simply provide an inch of water each week for their first two summers. Stop watering in autumn and winter.
A 2-3 inch thick layer of lightweight organic mulch spread around it’s base will help conserve soil moisture, just be sure the mulch doesn’t rest against the tree trunk.
Potted trees need to be watered whenever the soil appears dry on the surface. Do not let them dry out completely, as they can suffer root rot.
Powder puff trees need no fertiliser when grown in the ground, but potted specimens will benefit from light feeding – particularly when warm and sunlight is strong – with a weak solution of general fertiliser.
Apply weekly during the active growing season and discontinue in winter, when the tree is resting.
Pruning or pinching back the new growth in spring will help encourage dense branching and flower production, along with controling the size of the tree, which is important when grown in a pot.
Snip off the tips of the stems by half an inch or so above a branch, as well as any dead or damaged branches, spent flowers or seed pods.
Pink powder puff trees rarely suffer from infections or illness.