Shrubs

Fairy Duster Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Calliandra Eriophylla”

Guide to Fairy Duster Shrubs - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for "Calliandra Eriophylla"
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Are you gardening in the hot, arid desert? Fairy Duster is a drought-tolerant shrub, perfect for desert landscaping that will add the zap of exotic color your garden needs.

Calliandra Eriophylla, or commonly known as Fairy Duster, is an evergreen low-spreading shrub, relatively drought resistant and really easy to care for. This shrub loves the sun and the heat, which makes it a perfect choice for gardens in arid climates. Yet, Fairy Duster won’t do as well in shade or partial shade. Make sure your climate is appropriate and that it mimics its native growing requirements to enjoy the beauty of this shrub.

Being easy to care for isn’t Fairy Duster’s only advantage. It is also unique-looking, which makes it a great addition to gardens that need some color and a fresh touch throughout the year.

Fun facts about Fairy Dusters:

  • The leaves of the Fairy Duster shrub close slightly during the night to help the plant conserve moisture.
  • In periods of extreme drought, Fairy Duster shrubs shed all their leaves.
  • Fairy Duster blooms almost all year-round.

Are you ready to learn more about growing and caring for Calliandra Eriophylla? Keep reading below!

About Fairy Duster

  • Fairy Duster is part of the Fabaceae family, and it is native to deserts and arid grasslands in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas, usually growing on dry rocks at elevations from 2000-5000 feet (609-1524 m).
  • The botanical name of Fairy Duster is Calliandra Eriphylla. It is also called False Mesquite, Pink Fairyduster, Mock Mesquite, and Mesquitilla.
  • Fairy Duster is best grown outdoors in arid climates, where temperatures are really high, and there is a lot of sunlight. It is an excellent addition to drought-tolerant gardens.
  • Fair Duster shrubs will attract hummingbirds, wrens, and finches to your garden.
  • Fairy Duster prefers really sunny areas. Considering it is a desert native plant, it’s no surprise that it prefers full sunlight and reflected heat. Make sure you find the brightest spot in your garden to plant your Fairy Duster.
  • To thrive as it does in its native environment, Calliandra Eriphylla needs really warm temperatures of above 75°F (23°C). If the climate in your area gets colder than that frequently, this plant isn’t recommended for your garden because it will simply not survive. The hotter the temperatures, the better this shrub will do.
  • This shrub is drought-resistant and requires low use of water. So, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to water your Fairy Duster. It’s very unlikely for it to die because of lack of water.
  • Fairy Duster requires no pruning. Yet, you may have to trim your plant to encourage denser and more attractive growth.
  • Fairy Duster generally doesn’t have pest or disease problems.
  • Calliandra Eriphylla isn’t known to be toxic to pets or humans. So, you don’t have to worry about placing the shrub out of your pets’ or kids’ reach.
Fairy Duster
Fairy Duster

Fairy Duster Features: An Overview

  • Calliandra Eriphylla is a low-spreading, medium-size shrub that features feathery evergreen foliage. It has a tropical appearance.
  • Fairy Duster can reach up to 1 to 5 feet (0.5-1.5 m) both tall and wide.
  • In spring, Fairy Duster produces dark pink to white powder-puff flowers. From then on, blooming happens intermittently throughout the rest of the year in response to moisture exposure.
  • The flowers produced by Fairy Duster have no fragrance, but they are mesmerizing.

Growing Fairy Duster

Growing Fairy Duster is really easy as this plant is somehow used to unfriendly growing conditions that are usually found in the desert. It doesn’t require a lot of water and can survive really hot temperatures. But for your Fairy Duster to thrive, you need to make sure that its environment mimics its native growing conditions.

First, consider Fairy Duster’s lighting requirements. As mentioned above, this shrub needs to be in a place where it gets full, direct sunlight. While it can also handle partial shade and reflected heat, to encourage its blooming, it is best to keep it in a really sunny spot where it gets a lot of sunlight almost all day long, just as it prefers.

In late winter or late spring, when it’s the blooming period of Fairy Duster shrubs, you need to fertilize it. This will provide your Fairy Duster with all the necessary nutrients to produce its beautiful prink flowers. Like it is with all plants, blooming takes a lot of energy from the plant. So, it’s best to help your Fairy Duster with feeding. You can use an either 8-8-8 or a 10-10-10 fertilizer.

How to apply fertilizer? Sprinkle it over the soil under each of your shrub’s canopy.

Fairy Duster doesn’t require pruning, but occasional trimming can help prevent your plant from looking too leggy or too large. Trimming also encourages denser and more attractive growth in Fairy Dusters.

Calliandra Eriophylla
Calliandra Eriophylla

How to Plant Fairy Duster

Before we dig deeper into how to plant a Fairy Duster, it is highly important to mention that this shrub will only thrive if you live in an arid climate with really warm temperatures, not colder than 75°F (23°C).

Fairy Duster needs to be planted in a spot where it gets full sun for most of the day. While it may adapt to light shade, it is best to choose the sunniest area in your garden to provide your shrub with full sun. Water the plant well to keep its soil moist until it establishes.

You can use your Fairy Duster as a specimen shrub in a prominent spot of your garden, and make it the focal point of your outdoor environment, or use it in your garden as foundation plantings. Calliandra Eriophylla is an excellent choice for dry desert and rock gardens where there’s limited space for plants.

Keep in mind that this shrub needs well-draining soil to avoid overwatering.

Watering Fairy Duster

Fairy Duster requires very little water to survive. In fact, it is well-known for the fact that it is drought-tolerant, which makes it an excellent plant for desert landscaping. Calliandra Eriphylla requires little water use, but in some cases, more frequent irrigation can be beneficial to its growth and flowering.

Since it is a desert native plant, Fairy Duster can survive without irrigation. Yet, we recommend watering your shrub once every week through the spring and summer months to prolong its flowering, and every month or two during the winter.

Even if this shrub is really drought-tolerant, and can survive long periods without being watered, keep in mind that in extreme drought it sheds all its leaves. So, if you don’t want your Fairy Duster to lose its beauty, make sure you don’t leave it without water for too long.

Avoid keeping your Fairy Duster in wet soil or standing water. When kept in too much water, your shrub will experience leaf discoloration, affecting its lovely evergreen appearance.

Calliandra Eriophylla Seeds, From Amazon

Propagating Fairy Duster

Fairy Duster is really easy to propagate via sow seeds. The flowers produced by Fairy Duster give way to flat seed pods, which you can use to propagate your shrub.

To propagate your Fairy Duster via seed:

  • Place the seeds inside a bowl. Heat water until it boils and let the water cool until you no longer hear it boiling, pour it into the bowl with the seed.
  • Let the seeds soak until they swell. This should take from eight to 24 hours.
  • Take the seeds out of the water and wrap them in a paper towel to keep them moist until you prepare their pots.
  • Prepare a well-draining soil using coarse sand, perlite, and loam.
  • Place no more than two seeds in each pot at a depth of ¼ inch.
  • Take the pots outdoors and place them in a spot with light shade.
  • Maintain the soil in the pots slightly moist but allow the soil to dry out for a day during this period.
  • Germination can happen at any time from 20 to 45 days. Once it happens, move the pot to a sunnier spot and continue to moisten the top few inches of the soil whenever it dries out completely.
  • Plant your new Fairy Dusters in sunny places of your garden.
Calliandra Eriophylla flower
Calliandra Eriophylla flower

In Conclusion

A Fairy Duster is probably what every garden needs, especially in arid environments. The Fairy Duster shrub is really easy to care for as long as you live in an area with a climate very similar to its native growing conditions. Keep in mind that Fairy Duster is a desert native plant, meaning that it needs a lot of warmth and sunlight to thrive.

Make sure you help your shrub with fertilizer during the blooming period to support flowering. If you take proper care of your Fairy Duster, it will repay you with its year-round exotic and beautiful dark pink flowers. What’s more, this shrub will also bring your garden to life by attracting hummingbirds, wrens, finches, and other similar birds that live in the same native environment of Fairy Duster. Make sure you place a birdbath or other outdoor water ornament to make your garden even more attractive to these birds.

Are you ready to start growing and propagating Fairy Duster shrubs? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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