How to Care for Powder Puff Tree – 7 Pointers and Bonus!

With its luxurious, fern-like foliage and vivid, pom-pom-style blossoms, the Powder puff tree is the kind of plant that tempts you to reach out and touch it! Its flower display resembles fireworks, putting on a dazzling performance in the late afternoon and early evening, making it an excellent choice if you desire a plant that springs to life as the sun sets.

When I first acquired a Powder puff plant, I was immediately captivated. I have a soft spot for bipinnate leaf structures, and when paired with these extravagant blossoms, I knew I had to add one to my collection. My Powder puff tree has been part of my indoor garden for a few years, and caring for it has been a breeze. Powder puff plant care includes well-drained soil, ample indirect sunlight or partial shade, a consistent watering schedule, and feeding every two weeks during its growth phase.

Having nurtured the Powder puff plant for several years, I can now provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to ensure the continued flourishing of this lush and captivating plant!

powder puff tree

Table of Contents

Does It Need Direct Light?

Your Powder puff tree is the happiest when it gets bright, indirect sunlight. Place it near a north or east-facing window, and it’ll thrive.

Signs It Needs More Bright Light

If your Powder puff tree starts showing these signs, it’s throwing a subtle plant tantrum for more light:

  • Leggy Growth: If the small tree starts stretching towards the light source, it reaches for more sunshine.
  • Smaller Leaves: New leaves are smaller than usual.
  • Reduced Blooms: Fewer or smaller flowers compared to their usual pomp and circumstance.

Signs of Too Much Bright Light

Your Powder puff tree might protest with these symptoms with too much full sun:

  • Leaf Burn: Sunburned or brown-edged leaves.
  • Wilting: If the small tree droops despite being adequately watered, it might get too much sun.
  • Faded Colors: The foliage loses its vibrancy and becomes pale.

So, where’s your Powder puff tree’s best seat in the house? Aim for a spot where it receives bright, indirect light or partial shade but not full sun.

I keep mine on a north or east-facing window that fits the bill perfectly. I use sheer curtains (or you can use blinds) to filter the sunlight gently.

blossoming plant on powder puff tree

How Do I Know When to Water?

When it comes to watering your Powder puff tree, consistency is critical.

Here’s a simple routine to follow:

  • Check the Soil: Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil. If it feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water.
  • Water Evenly: Water the soil thoroughly but avoid flooding it. Make sure water reaches the root zone. Use a saucer to catch excess water and prevent root rot.
  • Drainage is Crucial: Ensure your pot has proper drainage to prevent waterlogging. Empty the saucer after each watering to avoid the plant sitting in standing water.

Signs of Too Much Water

Too much water can lead to a less-than-happy performance. Watch for these signs of overwatering:

  • Wilting despite moist soil (a sign of root rot)
  • Yellowing leaves that become mushy
  • A foul odor coming from the soil (a bad sign)

Pro Tips on Watering

Here are a few more pro tips on watering when growing powder puff trees:

  • Use room-temperature water to avoid shocking the roots.
  • Water in the morning allows excess moisture to evaporate during the day.
  • Reduce watering during the plant’s dormant period, typically in the winter.

I check moisture with a moisture meter; they are handy gadgets that help you determine when to water without getting your hands dirty. Alternatively, stick your finger into the top 2 inches of soil. If it comes out clean, it’s dry and it’s time for a drink. Once established, Powder puff trees are drought tolerant, so don’t panic if you forget a watering once or twice.

What’s the Best Soil to Use?

close up of powder puff tree

Your Powder puff tree craves well-draining soil. It despises having its roots sitting in a soggy mess. A high-quality potting mix formulated for tropical or indoor plants is usually a safe bet. To enhance drainage, combine potting soil with perlite orchid bark.

pH Range

Powder puff trees (Calliandra haematocephala) prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. This range provides an optimal environment for nutrient uptake and overall growth.

You can quickly test the pH of your soil using a pH testing kit available at most gardening centers. Follow the instructions on the kit to obtain an accurate reading.

If your soil mix falls outside the preferred pH range, you can make adjustments as needed:

  • To Raise pH (Make More Alkaline): Add garden lime to the mix gradually and retest until you reach the desired pH level.
  • To Lower pH (Make More Acidic): Add sulfur or aluminum sulfate to the mix and retest until you achieve the desired pH level.
  • Monitoring pH: Regularly monitor the pH of your soil to ensure it remains within the optimal range. pH levels can change over time due to factors such as the water you use and the breakdown of organic materials in the soil.

A pot with drainage holes at the bottom is non-negotiable because it prevents water from accumulating at the roots, which can lead to root rot of the small tree.

You’d be surprised how many pots I’ve brought home only to find out they have no holes drilled in them! Your Powder puff tree deserves a comfy home, not a waterlogged one.

What Temperature Do Powder Puff Trees Prefer?

close up of powder puff tree flower

Powder puff trees are tropical plants, and they prefer consistent temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C).

Protect your Powder puff tree from extreme temperature fluctuations. They’re not fond of sudden drops below 50°F (10°C) or exposure to freezing temperatures. Keep them away from drafts near doors, windows, or heating/cooling vents.

Since they are popular indoor plants, your home’s typical room temperature is usually suitable for your Powder puff tree.

If you place your Powder puff tree outdoors during warm months, acclimate it gradually to the outdoor conditions. They can tolerate outdoor temperatures as long as they remain within their preferred range.

How Can I Increase Humidity?

Powder puff trees prefer a relative humidity level of around 50% or higher. In their native tropical habitats, humidity is naturally abundant, so replicating this environment will benefit your Powder puff plant.

Maintaining adequate humidity indoors can be challenging in dry climates or during the winter when heating systems are running.

Here’s how you can increase humidity around your Powder puff plant:

  • Use a humidity tray: Place a shallow tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant. As the water evaporates, it increases the local humidity.
  • Use a room humidifier: A room humidifier can help maintain consistent humidity levels in the entire room, benefiting all your indoor plants.
  • Group plants together: Grouping plants can create a microclimate with higher humidity due to the collective transpiration of the plants.
  • Misting: Lightly misting your Powder puff tree’s dark green foliage with water can help increase humidity around the plant. Do this in the morning to allow the leaves to dry before evening, reducing the risk of fungal issues.
  • Winter Humidity: When indoor heating systems can dry out the air during winter, pay extra attention to humidity. Consider using a humidifier or a humidity monitor to ensure your Powder puff tree remains comfortable.

What Type of Fertilizer Is Best?

Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. This means the fertilizer contains equal parts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), plus additional micronutrients. You can find these fertilizers at garden centers or online.

powder puff tree before blossoming

Fertilizer Frequency

During the growing season, which typically spans spring to fall, feed your Powder puff tree every two to four weeks. This provides a steady supply of nutrients for its active growth period.

In the winter months, reduce the frequency of fertilization to once every two months or suspend it entirely. Powder puff trees experience a natural slowdown during this period, and over-fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances.

Application Method

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for diluting the liquid fertilizer in water. Cut it to half the strength suggested on the label, especially when using a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.

When applying fertilizer, water your Powder puff plant first to ensure the soil is moist. Then, use the diluted fertilizer solution to avoid root burn. Water thoroughly after fertilizing to distribute the nutrients evenly.

Organic Options

If you prefer organic fertilizers, you can use a balanced organic fertilizer. Just remember that organic fertilizers’ nutrient release is slower than synthetic ones, so adjust your feeding schedule accordingly.

Monitor the Plant

When growing powder puff trees, look for signs of nutrient deficiencies or excesses. Yellowing or browning of leaves, stunted growth, or a lack of blooms could be indicators that your plant needs a nutrient adjustment.

What Are the Propagation Methods for Powder Puff Tree?

Propagating your Powderpuff tree (Calliandra haematocephala) can be an exciting way to share its beauty with friends or expand your indoor garden. 

Here’s how you can propagate your Powder puff tree:

Stem Cuttings

Firstly, choose a healthy, non-flowering branch to take your cutting from. The best time to do this is in the spring or early summer, when the plant is actively growing.

Secondly, use sharp, clean pruning shears to cut a 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) section of the stem just below a leaf node (the point where a leaf attaches to the stem). Cut at a slight angle to expose more surface area.

Then, remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting, leaving a few leaves at the top intact.

After that, to encourage root development, you can dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone powder or gel, following the product’s instructions. 

Finally, fill a small pot with a well-drained potting mix. Insert the cut end of the stem into the soil, burying it about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) deep. Water the soil thoroughly to settle it around the cutting.

Then place a clear plastic bag or dome over the cutting to create a mini-greenhouse effect and maintain high humidity levels. Place the potted cutting in indirect sunlight away from the full sun.

Mist the cutting and the inside of the plastic covering regularly to keep the humidity high.

I check the cutting for roots after a few weeks by gently tugging on it. When there is resistance or new growth, it has likely developed roots. At this point, you can transplant it into a larger pot with your standard potting mix.

Air Layering

Air layering involves creating a new plant from a branch while it is still attached to the parent plant. This method is more advanced but can yield excellent results.

Firstly, choose a healthy, non-flowering branch to air layer the seeds. This branch should be young, but has matured enough to support root development.

Secondly, about 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) from the tip of the branch, make a slanting cut halfway through the branch, leaving about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of uncut wood on either side of the incision.

Then, dampen some sphagnum moss and wrap it around the cut section of the branch. Encase the moss in plastic wrap to keep it moist.

After that, use twine or string to secure the plastic-wrapped moss in place. Ensure it’s snug but not so tight that it cuts into the branch.

Over several weeks, roots will form within the moss. You can check this by gently squeezing the moss to see if it feels firm (indicating root development).

Finally, cut the branch below the moss-wrapped section once the roots have developed. Plant this rooted section in a pot with well-draining soil.

various flowers on powder puff tree

What Common Pests and Problems May Occur?


  • Symptoms: Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. You may notice distorted or yellowed leaves and a sticky residue (honeydew) on the plant.
  • Treatment: You can remove aphids by spraying the plant with a strong stream of water or using insecticidal soap. Neem oil is also effective at controlling aphids.

Spider Mites

  • Symptoms: Spider mites are tiny arachnids that can create fine webbing on the powder puff tree leaves. Leaves may appear stippled, discolored, or yellow.
  • Treatment: Increase humidity around the plant by misting it regularly. You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control spider mites.


  • Symptoms: Whiteflies are tiny, white insects that swarm around the plant when disturbed. They can cause yellowing leaves and weaken the plant.
  • Treatment: Use yellow sticky traps to capture adult whiteflies. Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to control the infestation.

Fungal Issues

  • Symptoms: Powder puff trees can be susceptible to fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew or leaf spot. Symptoms include white, powdery patches on leaves or dark spots with yellow halos.
  • Treatment: Ensure good air circulation around the plant and avoid overhead watering. If you notice fungal issues, remove affected leaves and use a fungicide as directed.

Pruning Issues

  • Symptoms: Improper pruning can lead to leggy growth or reduced flowering. Avoid excessive pruning, especially during the growing season, which can inhibit blooming.
  • Treatment: Prune sparingly and primarily for shape and size control, preferably during the plant’s dormant period.

About Powder Puff Tree

The Powder puff tree, scientifically known as Calliandra haematocephala, is a captivating tropical plant cherished among indoor gardeners. Renowned for its striking features and vibrant aesthetics, this tropical plant is known to grow to a height of approximately 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) when grown indoors. There is a dwarf variety available for those with small spaces. 

Its graceful dark green fern-like leaves provide a lush backdrop for the star of the show—its enchanting, crimson-hued, pom-pom-like flowers that can reach around 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. These showy flowers, during the late afternoon and early evening, add a touch of exotic elegance to indoor spaces.

The Powder puff tree’s manageable size and drought-tolerant nature make it an excellent choice as an indoor plant, for gracing living rooms, offices, or conservatories. Its compact yet bushy growth habit with a spread of about 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) makes it ideal for various indoor settings.


What is the medicinal use of Calliandra Haematocephala?

Some species of the Calliandra genus have been traditionally used in various folk medicines in certain regions, particularly in Central and South America. The medicinal uses depend on the particular Calliandra species and the traditional knowledge of the local communities.

How do you care for Calliandra Surinamensis UK?

Calliandra surinamensis, commonly known as Pink Powderpuff or Surinam Powder Puff, can be grown in the UK as a houseplant or greenhouse, as it is not cold-hardy. Care for it by providing bright, indirect sunlight away from full sun, well-draining soil, regular watering, and feeding with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

What is the common name for Calliandra SP?

Common names for different species of Calliandra include Powder Puff tree, Pink Powderpuff, Red Powderpuff, and Fairy Duster.

How big do calliandra surinamensis get?

Calliandra surinamensis, or Pink Powderpuff, typically grows to 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters) when cultivated as a houseplant or in a greenhouse.

What are powder puffs used for?

The Calliandra haematocephala (Powder puff tree) is primarily used for its ornamental value in hanging baskets in gardens and as a houseplant.

What is the benefit of Calliandra?

The benefits of Calliandra, especially Calliandra haematocephala, lie in its aesthetic value as an ornamental plant. As a tropical plant, it can contribute to indoor air quality by increasing humidity levels in dry environments.

The Powder Puff Tree – Your Ticket to Indoor Garden Glamour!

The Powder puff tree, called Calliandra haematocephala, brings sophistication with its lush foliage and flamboyant pom-pom-like blooms. Plus, it’s as low-maintenance as a houseplant can get, making it the perfect choice for both green thumbs and those with a more “hands-off” approach to plant care.

Whether you want a show-stopping centerpiece or a conversation starter for your indoor garden, the Powder puff tree is your secret agent of botanical elegance, ready to charm your living space with its allure.

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Alex Tinsman
An avid plant and flower lover! Ever since he was little, plants, flowers, and shrubbery of all kinds filled his life. Alex credits this fascination with nature's beauty to his mother and grandmother who were - and still are - dedicated gardeners. It's now Alex's mission to pass that same love for plants onto others and show them it's as easy as pie to bring nature inside.

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