Coral bean, Eritrean herbacea, is a deciduous, herbaceous, xeriscapic perennial shrub. This Texas native shrub is attractive to hummingbirds.
Care of the Coral Bean shrub should begin with where it is to be placed in the landscape. It is important to know that it does best where it gets some sun, actually it can thrive in part sun to full sun. Being a shrub that thrives in full sun also makes it tolerant of high heat and is tolerant to drought conditions such as low water. The soil that Coral Bean does best in ranges from acidic to loam, including sandy and slightly acidic. This shrub will also tolerate some salt in the soil and air making it a consideration for growing in Gulf Coast areas. It will also need to be fertilized once or twice yearly and dead headed each winter. This shrub is best used in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 through 11.
Foliage, Blooms and Fruit
Foliage of the Coral Bean shrub are leaves that are compound and reach a length of eight inches. These compound leaves are made up of three leaflets that are shallow-lobed. The stems of the Coral Bean help protect the shrub with spines that are short and recurved.
The blooms of the Coral Bean are scarlet red and tubular. These flowers are found on two inch leafless spikes in the Spring from April to June.
Coral Bean Shrubs has fruit that appears after the plant blooms. This fruit is pods with scarlet seeds inside.
Propagation of the Coral Bean Shrub is either by seeds or by cuttings. Seeds will have to be collected when the fruit is ripe then allowed to dry. They should be sown when the last threat of frost is past. Cuttings will have to be rooted and allowed to grow before putting them in the landscape. Both will take some time so allow for it when considering which type you would like to use.
Coral Bean Shrubs have several uses in a landscape. Finding that perfect spot is up to each person looking to use it. This shrub will seldom get larger than eight foot in height making it good for mass plantings. But since it attracts hummingbirds, it may be used in a hummingbird garden or in a container with several other plants that hummingbirds are attracted to. These are just a few of the ideas for using this colorful shrub in a landscape setting.
Texas A&M Horticulture
University of Florida