Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima )
This is another one of those plants that has probably stopped you in traffic. It is a spectacular full sun perennial specimen plant and there is no wonder that this is a the Barbados National Flower.
Pride of Barbados reaches heights of up to 8′ and about as wide, although this happens over several years of establishment. It is an incredibly drought tolerant plant that requires little water once established which for most perennials is about 2 years. It also requires little to no maintenance and its seed pods can be harvested once dried and used for future planting. Pride of Barbados is a deciduous plant that goes dormant after the first hard freeze, then returns in late Spring. POB is pretty late to the party, typically returning in late April, early May, but like any great party guest…is well worth the wait!
While you can see from the above photo that this plants is therapeutic in its obvious beauty and elegant foliage, what you may not know is that it is also highly regarded for its medicinal values. The leaves are said to have laxative qualities, and are used against kidney stones, malarial fever and bronchitis. It is also said to be an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, used for treatment of Staphylococcus and that it destroys cancerous cells. Every plant part from roots to flowers, seeds, and stems are said to have medicinal properties.
As with all perennials, once your Pride of Barbados goes dormant in the winter you are wise to allow its return before trimming. I typically wait until early Spring, (very late winter) to trim my deciduous perennials as the remains of the plant protect the roots from freezing and allow you the opportunity to see where new growth may be returning from old stems. The dense woody stems are a challenge to cut back but are easy work with large loppers, they are also spiny to the touch so I advise you use gloves when trimming.
Allow plenty of room for this brilliant specimen plant and enjoy its return each year. You will be rewarded by a show of extraordinary tropical color, luxurious foliage, the constant visits from butterflies and the pride of your own garden space.
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”