Texas Superstar characteristics

1. Is attractive and useful to the gardening masses
2. Consistently performs well
3. Can be mass-produced to meet consumer demand
4. Is unique; offers desirable and ornamental characteristics
5. Is pest resistant; added feature is deer resistant
6. Is so attractive, it sells itself

Reference online:

Texas Superstar Plants at
Plant Answers
The beautiful, unique bloom of the Pride of Barbados, with its whiskery-looking stamen and unusual petal arrangement, is set off with its fern-like foliage.
Pride of Barbados,
Spicy Jatropha
Texas Superstar status

October 23, 2008

By Nancy Kramer,
Victoria County Master Gardener

Edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Zoom in for a special look at the star-shaped blooms in a unique color of red on the Spicy Jatropha.  Look closely for the triple-lobed leaves of this Superstar plant.
Just the names pride of Barbados and spicy jatropha are enough to make me want these two plants in my yard. They are phenomenal shrubs for our Texas red-hot summers, will bloom into the fall, attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and have very distinctive leaf features.

At noon today, Dr. Jerry Parsons, will talk about these and other Texas Superstars at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show in the Victoria Community Center Annex. Tickets, which include a 12-ounce choice ribeye steak lunch, are $10 and any unsold tickets can be purchased at the door. If lunch is sold out, you may attend the program free.

Pride of Barbados

If you have ever been to Mexico or the Rio Grande Valley and have seen the royal poinciana, you know what pride of Barbados looks like. Since we can't grow the large poinciana tree here, the dwarf poinciana or pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is the next best thing. You may have also heard it called red bird of paradise. It has fern-like leaves and terminal clusters of showy blossoms of orange and red with a touch of gold. Each individual flower has five petals with 10 prominent bright red stamens. I think they are incredibly beautiful when I drive by Four Seasons Garden Center and see them growing in the front flowerbed along Salem Road.

Pride of Barbados is a returning perennial in Victoria and South Central Texas. Although it may freeze back, or even lose its leaves in our area, it is back with spectacular blooms the following year. Even when it freezes to the ground here in the Coastal Bend, it may grow back to 8-feet tall or more. The pride of Barbados is easy to grow and does well in alkaline to acidic, well-drained soil. It is fast-growing, even in hot temperatures, in full sun or partial shade. It blooms best in sunnier spots and is very drought tolerant.

It is very easy to propagate from the seeds produced in pods like pea pods. The pods will pop open and spew the seeds, so it may even become weedy in your beds, which might be the only drawback to this plant. Remove these seed pods, as soon as they form, to prevent the spewing and encourage more blooming.

The red bird of paradise looks great all by itself as a specimen plant or in a mixed border. You can also see a pride of Barbados in the Master Gardeners' Victoria Educational Gardens (VEG) next to the spicy jatropha.

Spicy Jatropha

Spicy jatropha or peregrina, (Jatropha integerrima 'Compacta') quickly became one of my favorite plants when a teacher friend and fellow Master Gardener bragged about how special it was. She had a spicy jatropha in a container on her patio and those Hawaiian Punch-colored clusters of flowers did a great job attracting hummingbirds. Each bright, red flower looks like a 5-pointed star. This time of the year, I hardly ever walk outside without seeing butterflies around mine. The zebra longwing is one special butterfly attracted to my jatrophas.

There are two types of spicy jatropha and the Superstar version is the 'Compacta' cultivar. It is generally much smaller than the regular one, although in full sun and when it doesn't freeze back in winter here, it can grow pretty tall. They grow about 2- to 3-feet wide.

It has the most beautiful glossy green, sometimes 3-lobed leaves, making it pretty, even if it didn't bloom with the phenomenal red clusters of flowers. With our mild temperatures last winter, mine didn't freeze and never stopped blooming, although it has tended to get too tall and leggy and the blooms are small, so it's probably best to cut it back to about 2 to 3 feet even if it doesn't freeze. (The same goes for the pride of Barbados being cut back to about a foot in February.)

Spicy jatropha has great ornamental qualities making it an excellent specimen plant, which means it is considered noteworthy enough to stand on its own, and is great to show off in a conspicuous place. Spicy jatropha makes an excellent container plant on patios and by pools, is drought tolerant, and tolerant of poor soils, as long as the soil is well-drained, but moist. It will grow in full sun to partial shade.

All parts of it are poisonous, and it produces a white sap which can be irritating when pruning.

Since it blooms on the current year's growth, it can be pruned back at any time of year, if necessary.

What is a Superstar?

The Gardeners' Dirt has published several articles about Texas superstar plants. They are plants which, during trial testing performed by the Texas A&M CEMAP team, composed of horticultural researchers, and extension specialists and agents, consistently delivered the highest levels of landscape and garden performance, coupled with the widest range of adaptation and the strongest pest resistance. Two to four plants receive this distinction each year, and the pride of Barbados and spicy jatropha have been added this year.

Remember, Superstars are relatively easy to grow, have unique characteristics and are pest resistant. Don't forget Parson's presentation at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show at noon today at the Victoria Community Center.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or, or comment on this column at
Speaking about Superstar plants

Dr. Jerry Parsons, Bexar County extension horticulturist, is the guest speaker at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show luncheon today from noon to 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 and includes a 12-ounce choice rib-eye steak lunch.

Topic will be Superstar plants for the farm and ranch.

The Pride of Barbados is striking in this front bed planting at Four Seasons Garden Center.  You can see other Texas Superstar Plants, such as the Blue Plumbago and  yellow flowering Thryallis in this bed also.