Pink Fairy Duster
Local Desert - Anza Borrego area
Full Sun; Part Shade
Slow - Moderate
Spring - Fall
Do not Shear! Best left natural shape with only pruning single branches to promote growth.
Native to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and all the way south to Baja California, so their natural range is quite large and they are hardy to at least 15 degrees. Locally we find them in Anza Borrego. It can be pruned, but doesn’t need to be if given room to spread. Although it is a desert plant, its water requirements are higher. It is typically found where there is some subsurface water year-round. If not irrigated, the plant may drop some leaves in the summer. After pollination, the plant produces small pods with seeds, which dry out and pop open, scattering their seeds. Like many desert trees and shrubs, it is a member of the legume family.
The shrub grows about 3-4 feet tall, and about as wide. It has no thorns and a fine dark green foliage that’s very attractive. The bloom period is from spring through fall, depending on rain or irrigation. I read one description that said the cotton-candy pink “powderpuff” flowers looked like something a unicorn would eat
Its growth form is described as airy. They tolerate full sun, but also do fine in part shade. Well-draining soil is best.
I have never had an issue with rabbits eating mine but the literature does not say they are rabbit or deer resistant. To date, I've not had a problem with unicorns.
This species should not be confused with Calliandra californica, native to Baja, California. Baja Fairy Duster has deep red flowers, and is more commonly available in nurseries.
Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information
The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others!
Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.
Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.