Caesalpinia mexicana Mexican Bird of Paradise
10-15 ft. high x 6-10 ft. wide
USDA zones 9-11
Fast growing & adaptable ornamental small tree. Like other Caesalpinias, Mexican bird are nitrogen fixing legumes that do not require additional fertilization even in average soils. They will grow as a large multi-trunked shrub or can be easily pruned into small accent trees. Blooms are yellow formed in spikes above the foliage, followed by long pods containing hard seeds. The fastest growth comes from moderate supplemental water initially, but once established trees can adapt to once per month deep soakings.
Vitex agnus-castus Chaste Tree, Lilac Chaste Tree
up to 20 ft. high x 10 ft. wide
USDA zones 7-11
Summer welcoming lilac-like flowers. For clients longing for bright cheery lilac blooms like they had in the Midwest or northeast, this is the best option, since they are durable to both heat and drought, unlike true lilacs are. These are large shrubs to small multi-trunked deciduous trees with attractive dark green pointed palmate leaves and long wide spikes of bright blue to lilac colored flowers. These heat-loving plants are often the last plants to leaf out in spring, waiting until the nighttime temperatures are quite warm to do so, but shortly after leafing out, masses of blooms form to cover the plants in spikes of bright blue. They are moderate to fast growing which makes them easy to trim and train into spectacular individual specimens or they can be planted as shrubs with narrow spacing to create a more formal hedge or dense, woody barrier. Adaptable, easy-to-grow with minimal maintenance.