Fairy dusters are tough and hardy desert plants that produce surprisingly delicate pink or white flowers. A popular garden plant, they thrive in drier conditions and, though not very fragrant, their unique blooms can attract hummingbirds to your yard.
Garden centers often carry small fairy duster plants in pots. Be sure to keep the pot upright on the ride home, and consider placing the potted seedling in the place where it will be planted for a few days so it gets used to the new surroundings before its roots are disturbed. Then, it will be ready to be placed in the ground.
Acclimated to desert environments, fairy dusters enjoy sandy, well-draining soil. Ground that is gravelly suits these plants just fine. Choose a sunny location with loose soil that is not packed down, as fairy dusters are used to lots of light and need space to spread their roots.
These plants can grow to around 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall, so space them out accordingly so they aren't crowded.
Fairy dusters are hungry for sunshine. These plants do best in full sunlight, so find a suitably sunny spot. They can handle part shade conditions, but they really do want to soak up the sun. An open yard is best for these plants that need a lot of light.
Fairy dusters are accustomed to low water conditions, but they are native to places with groundwater access. They should be watered at least once a week during the growing season, and ideally, allow the soil to dry completely in between watering.
Fairy dusters are very tolerant of dry spells once they're established, but a sustained drought may cause them to drop their leaves.
A balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer will help your fairy dusters produce their famous pompom-like flowers. Fertilize at the start of each growing season, in the early spring, to get the best results from your desert plants and bring more color and life to your yard.
Fairy dusters grow best in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11. Capable of surviving droughts, heat, and even cold temperatures, these hardy plants can thrive in otherwise inhospitable conditions, so consider them for spots in your yard where other plants haven't made it.
They are native to the dry regions of Mexico, Texas, California, and New Mexico.
Your fairy duster does not require pruning to thrive, though you may want to prune the branches to shape it and encourage growth.
Pruning the branches can make your fairy duster grow thicker and bushier. To achieve more fullness near the center of the plant, trim the new growth in the spring. This will encourage it to fill out.
When grown in their native region or hardiness zone, fairy dusters don’t need a lot of preparation for overwintering. Hold off on watering through the winter months, giving water only every month or two.
Cold temperatures may cause the leaves to drop, but new ones will grow in the spring. Resume watering weekly in the growing season.
The easiest way to get more fairy dusters from your existing plant is to gather the seed pods it drops. Soak the pods for at least 24 hours before planting them in sandy soil, in a warm, bright location. Soak the soil and let it dry out before watering again. Repeat until you see the first shoots.
Germination could take up to six weeks. Mature seedlings can be planted outdoors in full sun once they reach several inches tall and have some leaves.
Fairy dusters typically don’t have problems with disease. The most common problem is leaves turning yellow due to overwatering.
These plants don’t need too much water, so if the leaves are yellowing, hold back. Make sure the soil is completely dry a few inches before giving them more water. These plants don’t need a lot of attention and may do best when they are left to care for themselves.
Fairy dusters are also not particularly susceptible to pest damage, in the sense of bugs, but their pretty blooms are enticing to wildlife. If deer or rabbits regularly wander through your garden munching on your plants, you might want to surround your fairy duster with natural repellant plants like mint, or use netting.
The pretty pink flowers on fairy dusters attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Place your plants near a patio or outdoor seating area to fully enjoy the blooms and the wildlife that are attracted to them. The colorful flowers will also bring colorful butterflies, for many a photographic encounter.
Cenizo is a shrub that grows in dry, sunny conditions, much like fairy dusters. It can thrive in similar conditions and produces colorful flowers after rain. It is sometimes called “Barometer Bush” because of the timing of the blooms.
In addition to being resistant to most pests, fairy dusters are not known to be toxic to people or animals. They are simply beautiful shrubs that bloom almost all year round.
The blooms correlate with moisture levels but beware of watering to encourage blossoming, as too much water is not good for fairy dusters.
Several varieties of fairy dusters are native to the Southwest U.S. The Baja, la Paz, and False Mesquite varieties all have fluffy pink flowers and grow in hot dry climates. False Mesquite flowers can develop a lovely ombre of white centers darkening to magenta tips.