Powder Puff bonsai is one of the showiest of all tropicals. They bloom frequently and are often used for indoor bonsai!
Calliandra consists of 150 plus species of shrubs and trees found throughout tropical regions of the Americas, Asia and Madagascar. In the landscape they are primarily grown for their showy inflorescence.
The actual “flowers” are very small, however the brightly colored stamen make them appear larger. (Long stamens and pistils shoot out from a tiny calyx). The length of the stamens varies from species to species.
The joy of frequent flowers
- Family – Leguminosae (alternatively Fabaceae)
- Subfamily – Mimosoideae
- Relative of – A family of over 12,000 species – including many other bonsai subjects such as Acacia, Haematoxylon and Tamarindus
- Scientific name – Calliandra sp.
- Synonyms – Calliandra emarginata aka Calliandra haematocephala
As young trees, the trunk can be bent and shaped easily. Older trees are more difficult to bend and are usually styled as upright bonsai. Most species have flexible branches and take well to wiring.
New foliage breaks on old wood, therefore severe pruning responds nicely. Frequent foliage trimming, any time of year, encourages more compact foliage.
A full canopy style may display the flowers to their best advantage. (This is a 1980 photo of Joe Samuels and his amazing bonsai.)
Calliandra trunk sizes vary from species to species, as do the flowers. Start with flexible enough branches and a cascading shower of pink (or red) is possible.
The major bonsai ‘fault’ of the haematocephala variety is the trunk rarely attains great thickness.
Even aged Calliandra h. specimens in the landscape have relatively small trunks.
Read more about the Calliandra shown here on Powder Puff Bonsai Care page.
Another type of
Powder Puff Bonsai
C. schultzei variety is an exception to the slow growing trunk notion! This variety grows so quickly, it is likely to become root bound in a season. It will surely need additional water as the roots begin to fill the pot.
This Calliandra bonsai (aka Rose Cascade) was originally growing in the ground at my nursery in Miami. It was one of those things I kept planning to dig up. When I offered it to Erik Wigert, he didn’t hesitate! He has created a masterpiece from a rangy wild plant.