The red puffball plant, Calliandra haematocephala, that my wife Nancy and I have owned for several years has given us a lot of pleasure this winter – blooming for the first time since we have owned it.

It is an evergreen shrub that, if grown outdoors, can get to be 15 feet tall, although dwarf varieties are available. It produces 2-inch puffy red blossoms, usually in fall or winter, but can produce blossoms all year if it is happy and growing outdoors.

The problem for Maine residents is that this South American native is a Zone 9 or 10 plant. While easy to grow outdoors in Florida, in Maine (zones 4 – 6), it is a potted plant that has to be moved inside for the winter.

Fill a large pot with a good, well-drained potting soil and grow it in bright light to full sun where the temperature will be between 60 and 75 degrees. The red puffball likes high moisture, so mist it regularly or place the pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water (or we group five or six plants together in a mini-forest). Water the plant every other week with a 50 percent solution of an all-purpose fertilizer.

In order to get blossoms, don’t prune the plant before bringing it inside. Do your pruning in the spring, just before you take it outside for the summer.

You can easily take some of your prunings, treat them with a rooting solution, put them in perlite or peat moss, keep them at 75 degrees until rooted and get more plants.

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