The ball-like flowers of this plant, which blooms in winter, are made up entirely of stamens, and the bright red 3-in/8-cm-wide “powder puffs” last for almost two months. The dark green foliage is divided into leaflets, each of which is about 2in/5cm long.
In time the plant will develop into a bushy tree, but it will tolerate hard pruning, so can be kept to 2-3ft/60-90cm by cutting it back in spring. It can even be used as a subject for bonsai.
Calliandra needs moist air, bright light, and warmth, three conditions generally found in a sunroom rather than in a living room. But if these requirements can be met, it will do well in the house. Calliandra tweedii has smaller red flowers and its leaves are feathery.
HEIGHT To 6ft/1.8m or more.
POTTING MIX Soil-based with some added leaf mold and coarse sand.
REPOTTING In spring move into a pot one size larger, until the plant has reached the desired size, then top-dress annually.
PROPAGATION Take stem cuttings in spring.
KEEPING PLANTS This plant is tough and will last for many years. Set the pot outdoors in summer to ripen the wood and improve flowering the following year.
Full sun except for the strongest summer sunlight, or partial shade.
Warm conditions, with a minimum winter temperature of 16°C/60°F.
Keep the soil damp at all times.
Mist regularly to increase humidity.
Feed every 2 weeks from spring to fall.