Mexican Bird of Paradise Care and Grow Guide

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The Mexican Bird of Paradise is an evergreen shrub that resembles ferns, but they have beautiful bright red and orange flowers. These are desert dweller plants that grow from Arizona to Mexico.

This article will cover how to how to care for the Mexican Bird of Paradise successfully. 

Mexican Bird of Paradise Overview

While the Mexican Bird of Paradise is often mixed in with other Bird of Paradise plants of the Strelitzia family of plants, it actually belongs to the Caesalpinia genus which is a member of the Fabaceae family or Legume family.

It is named the Mexicana Caesalpinia or the Erythrostemon mexicanus. It is known for the deep foliage it produces.

The typical Bird of Paradise’s blooms resemble the head of a tropical bird, hence the name, but the Mexican Bird of Paradise will produce blooms that are slightly different from the well-known bird head and crown.

Mexican Bird of Paradise

The Mexican plants have small and brightly colored flower petals in several shades of red, orange, or bright yellow. 

Plants belonging to the Fabaceae family are evergreen shrubs and small trees that resemble ferns. They produce seed pods that are large on the tips of their branches, that in turn develop into a spray of flame-colored flowers.

The Mexican variety of this plant features bright yellow flowers with lengthy red stamens. When blooms have faded, seed-packed pods will appear, eventually exploding, and sprinkle seeds everywhere.

These are tropical plants hailing from warm climate environments such as Barbados, Mexico, and tropical regions in the Americas. In the United States, they are frequently sighted in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada.

This plant will thrive in USDA Hardiness zones 8 or higher. They will flower all year round in tropical climates or in summer elsewhere.

Mexican Bird of Paradise

Mexican Bird of Paradise Care Guide

With the correct conditions, this plant can be cultivated outdoors. If you live in a colder climate, it will grow better when in a container. This plant is capable of growing to heights of fifteen feet, and similar widths as well, so keep this in mind when cultivating. You can prune it into a bush shape or allow it to take the shape of a tree.

It is considered to be a drought-tolerant plant, especially with the benefit of full sun in a well-draining soil bed. It can handle partial shade but will produce fewer flowers. It does not require much care and growth is slow to moderate.

Soil for the Mexican Bird of Paradise

Garden soil will be different from container potting soil. The Mexican Bird of Paradise plant can manage practically all soil types from clay to loamy, as long as it drains well. Soil beds should remain moist during the hotter summer months.

Light for the Mexican Bird of Paradise

The Mexican Bird of Paradise requires a place in the full sun for it to maintain its dense foliage and produce blooms. While partial shade will not affect the plant’s growth, it will reduce blooming.

Water and Humidity for the Mexican Bird of Paradise   

This plant will require weekly watering until it establishes itself in your landscape. When still young, the soil bed should be kept consistently moist.

Once the plant matures and roots are established, water it deeply every two weeks during its blooming and growth period in the spring and summer months.

For container cultivated pots, you’ll need to water with more regularity.

Temperature for the Mexican Bird of Paradise

While this plant will tolerate cool weather, it likes warm to high temperatures that measure between 60° and 80° F. If temperatures drop to 32°F, your plant will go dormant, awakening again in the spring. 

Fertilizer for the Mexican Bird of Paradise

As a plant that’s at home in the desert, it is not necessary to fertilize, so it will survive even with minimum nutrition.

When your Mexican Bird of paradise is in bloom, it would be helpful to fertilize with a 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer to encourage blooming. It’s best to feed this in late spring and the beginning of summer.

Mexican Bird of Paradise

Pruning the Mexican Bird of Paradise

Pruning the Mexican Bird of Paradise is necessary to maintain the tree’s shape and to keep its appearance tidy. If pruning for shape, do so in early spring at the beginning of the growing season.  

In winter, trim the tree back approximately a third or to the soil bed surface for maintenance. 

For plants cultivated in containers, they should be brought indoors in the winter months and pruned as needed.

Repotting the Mexican Bird of Paradise

When cultivated in a container, consider using a terracotta pot for its moisture-wicking capabilities and to keep your plant from becoming top-heavy.

Never allow the plant to sit in water in a container. As a slow to moderate grower, you should only need to repot every two to three years if fertilized, especially during the blooming season.

Propagating the Mexican Bird of Paradise

The Caesalpinia Mexicana can be propagated in a variety of ways. Layering and cutting are a couple methods, but because this plant produces so many seeds, many gardeners and landscapers will prefer to cultivate from seed.

The seeds that the plant produces are hard and will require some preparation before use.

Propagating by Seed

Follow these steps to propagate and grow the Mexican Bird of Paradise by seed. 

  • Gather seeds in the fall, once the pods turn brown, but before the seeds explode out of the pods.
  • Place the seeds on a towel or cloth in the sun and allow them to dry. Once they have dried out, place them in a sealed glass container and store them in your refrigerator until you’re ready to plant.
  • Six weeks before your area’s final frost is expected, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and make a small cut in the seed shells. Then soak them in warm water for 24 hours. Remove and dispose of seeds that are still floating and have not sunken to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Prepare a container with one part of potting soil and one part of perlite. The container should feature an adequate number of drainage holes.
  • Placed the seeds one-half-inch deep in the container, taking care to leave two inches of space between individual seeds. Water lightly.
  • Cover the container with plastic and place it in a warm location at a temperature of about 75°F for germination.
  • The soil should remain consistently damp, but not be wet soil. 
  • Germination should take place between one and four weeks. Remove the plastic and place the container in a location like a window with full sun, or under a grow lamp.
  • When the seedlings develop at least four leaves, transplant each into an individual pot.
  • Once the final frost has come and gone, move your plants outdoors for several hours per day to harden them before transplanting them into the garden bed.
Mexican Bird of Paradise

Mexican Bird of Paradise Toxicity and Pets

The seeds that generally explode all over your yard are highly toxic, meaning that they should not be left where children, pets, or birds can reach them. 

Birds are the most vulnerable to toxicity and ingestion can result in death for them.

If you store seeds in your refrigerator, label them accordingly.

Mexican Bird of Paradise poisoning symptoms include: mouth irritation, nausea, stomach irritation and ache, and vomiting.

Mexican Bird of Paradise Pests, Diseases, and Problems

In its natural desert habitat, the Mexican Bird of Paradise will usually not need to grapple with pests or diseases, because most of the dangers will not survive the harsh conditions of the desert.

When planted in a garden setting, they will face pest infestation from aphids, especially when the plants are young. The same is true of powdery mildew.

The conditions that contribute to pests or disease invading are too little sunlight exposure and a lack of sufficient water.

The soil bed should be kept moist, especially for young plants, and six hours of full sun is a must for your plant to thrive and resist infestation.

Mexican Bird of Paradise Final Thoughts

The Mexican Bird of Paradise is a stunning, blooming plant that will perk up any landscape with its beautiful and vivid red and yellow flowers.

With minimal care, you’ll enjoy the lush greenery and bright blooms, making your garden the envy of the neighborhood.

For more bird of paradise plant articles, check out these care guides: 

Mexican Bird of Paradise FAQs

Is Mexican bird of paradise invasive?

No, the Mexican bird of paradise is not an invasive series. Even though there are many seeds in each pod, they will not germinate correctly without the right conditions. It needs plenty of direct sunlight and water to grow well. 

Does Mexican bird of paradise need full sun?

The Mexican bird of paradise grows the best with full sun. Lots of sunlight will allow the plant to grow its dense foliage and produce its beautiful flowers. It can grow well in partial shade too, but it may not bloom any flowers. 

Why is my Mexican bird of paradise not blooming?

There are a couple reasons why the Mexican bird of paradise is not blooming. One reason is that it’s not receiving enough sunlight. It needs full sun to bloom its beautiful and unique flowers. Another reason it’s not blooming is the cold weather. It needs a warm temperature range that’s between 60° and 80°F to be able to bloom.  

How do you keep a Mexican bird of paradise small?

Keep the Mexican bird of paradise small by keeping it in partial shade and not fertilizing it as often. Continually pruning the plant will also help keep its shape and size smaller. 

How deep are Mexican bird of paradise roots?

The Mexican bird of paradise roots can grow as deep as two feet. This will vary depending on how much light and water the plant receives, as well as the variety of plants growing next to it. The root depth will also be longer when grown in the ground, compared to growing in containers that limit the depth. 

How tall does a Mexican bird of paradise grow?

The Mexican bird of paradise can grow up to 15 feet tall with proper care and growing conditions. However, if it’s not getting enough sunlight or water, it probably won’t grow taller than 10 feet. When grown indoors, it also won’t grow as tall due to the lack of a full sun. 

How fast does a Mexican bird of paradise grow?

The Mexican bird of paradise grows at a relatively slow to moderate rate. Repotting is only needed every 2 to 3 years when fertilized. 

Does Mexican bird of paradise have thorns?

The Mexican bird of paradise does not have any thorns or spiky plant parts, so don’t worry about injuring yourself while trimming this plant. If you want to remove some leaves from the plant, use sharp, pruning scissors to cut them off gently. Don’t pull the leaves off, as this could damage the plant.

Is Pride of Barbados same as Mexican bird of paradise?

The Pride of Barbados is not the same as the Mexican Bird of Paradise, but they’re closely related. The Pride of Barbados plant is another name for the Red Bird of Paradise, which is similar to the Mexican variety, but not the same.

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
Amy Walsh is a passionate indoor gardener, deeply engrossed in the world of houseplants and herbs. Her apartment is a lush sanctuary of foliage, reflecting her journey from hobbyist to devoted botanist. She's constantly exploring the latest in smart garden technology, eager to share her insights on nurturing green spaces indoors. Alongside her botanical pursuits, Amy enjoys connecting with nature and friends, continually enriching her lifestyle with greenery and growth.

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