Brazilian Candle Houseplant: Learn About The Care Of Brazilian Candles

Brazilian Candle Houseplant: Learn About The Care Of Brazilian Candles

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Brazilian candle plant (Pavonia multiflora) is an astounding flowering perennial that is suitable for a houseplant or may be grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. The genus is Pavonia, which includes many other flowering bushes related to the Mallow family. Care of Brazilian candles should match its tropical heritage and mimic the warm, humid conditions in which the plant originated.

What are Brazilian Candles?

Brightly colored, pink blooms with unique, long petals, or bracts, are vital characteristics of Pavonia Brazilian candles. What are Brazilian candles? They are a group of plants endemic to tropical South and Latin America. The exotic plants require warm temperatures and regular water. The intense flowers really bring the Brazilian feeling into a northern or western home where tropical touches evoke sultry hot nights and searing skies.

As the name would suggest, these plants are decorated with fingered blooms whose petals resemble tapered candles. The actual flower is a deep purplish-blue and is covered in bright pink to red bracts, or modified leaves. The effect is quite startling and lends an air of carnival to the humdrum home interior.

The plants can get 4- to 8-feet (1 to 2.5 m.) tall in natural settings but are more likely to achieve only 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) as a Brazilian candle houseplant. Leaves are lance-shaped, evergreen, and glossy on the upper side with a slightly furry texture on the underside. Flowers arise in spring and fall, but, in the home interior, they can be coaxed to bloom at any time of the year.

Growing a Brazilian Candle Houseplant

Pavonia Brazilian candles can be found at nursery centers and as a gift plant through florists. They can also be propagated from softwood cuttings in spring or from seed. The flowers become seed pods, which may be sown in flats.

Brazilian candle plant needs temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-26 C.) for best growth but can survive temperatures down to 30 and 40 F. (-1 to 4 C).

It will produce the best blooms in warm, humid conditions and can handle any light except full shade. Brighter lighting will increase blooming. Place the plant in a greenhouse, sunny window, or even a sunroom and it will likely bloom for you for many seasons.

Care of Brazilian Candles

Bring container plants outdoors in summer; they are attractive to bees and butterflies and other pollinating insects.

Plant and repot them in a loam-based houseplant soil and keep the soil moderately moist all year round.

Feed the plant with all-purpose plant food once per month, diluted in the water application. If you wish to encourage blooms, use a formula with a ratio higher in phosphorus, but be careful to leach the roots well after any such fertilizing to prevent root burn.

Brazilian candle houseplants benefit from spritzing with water to increase humidity, especially in winter when heaters dry out the air. You can also set the pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water, so evaporation will add moisture to the air.

These plants have few disease issues and pest problems. They will last for many years and bloom almost consistently with good care.

This article was last updated on

Growing Brazilian Candle Plant Indoors - How To Care For Pavonia Brazilian Candles - garden

by Mark Hooten, the Garden Doc

About the Author
Mark Hooten has been fascinated by horticulture since childhood, with interests including tropical fruits, cacti, ethnobotany, entheogens, and variegates. Having been employed in both FL and CA by botanical gardens and specialist nurseries as horticulturist, manager, propagator, and consultant, he is happy to speak with fellow plant worshipers at TopTropicals Nursery. Mark is currently busy writing a volume on the complicated history of croton varieties. His passions are plants, cats, and art of painting.

While it certainly never made headline news, just lately, the Hibiscus family (Malvaceae) became much larger than it used to be. Originally containing a vast array of components found on every continent (except of-course Antarctica), members include not only all the thousands of registered tropical fancy Hibiscus hybrids, but also fiber producers such cotton, and edible things like okra and the "cranberry hibiscus" (H. sabdariffa and H. acetocella), as-well-as the "salad Hibiscus" (H. cannabinus) and many others.

However, more recently utilizing high-tech molecular techniques not available in the past, botanists have decided that the Hibiscus family should also contain the super giant Kapok and Baobab trees as well. To me, this already omnibus group is now nearly beyond comprehension!

Hiding within this seemingly endless list of species are a number of more obscure ornamentals which truly deserve to be better known and appreciated. One of the first that comes to mind is a small tropical "shrublet" called Pavonia multiflora, the "Brazilian Candles" plant.

Like it's close relative the Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus), the flowers of the Brazilian candle are also designed to be visited and pollinated strictly by hummingbirds. The narrow, upright, barely opening tubular flowers present a display any hummingbird can truly appreciate. While our eyes simply see a dazzling combination of reds, violet, and blue, the super-vision of those tiniest of birds perceive several more colors in the infra-red and ultra-violet spectrum, visible only to them and certain insects. Sort-of like electric lights along Times Square flashing "HERE I AM"!

Best of all, these small yet stunning plants, generally only two or three feet tall, can be cultivated easily either outdoors year around in warmer climates, or as potted indoor plants, given a bright window. Under any reasonable conditions, they basically flower constantly. and are so distinct and eye-appealing that they rarely fail to attract glowing comments from visitors who have never seen this species before (which is basically everyone :).

I happened to give one several years ago to a friend living in the mountains of Tennessee for use as a houseplant. She adores it, and had it originally growing and flowering beautifully behind a bright sliding glass door in her kitchen. One summer morning, she happened to hear tiny tapping sounds from the glass door. Upon examination, there was not one, but two hummingbirds attempting to get to the flowers just inside. She decided to move the plant outside so that the birds might actually get to the flowers. As soon as she opened the door, both of the birds immediately flew inside and began feeding on the flowers!

After systematically visiting every open flower, they left as easily as they came in. She then moved the potted plant outdoors onto the adjacent patio, and now enjoys her morning coffee in the summer watching the hummingbirds feeding from her rare Pavonia during those warmer months. In the autumn, it is brought back inside and even decorated for the Christmas season!

Just like other members of the flowering Hibiscus group, Pavonias prefer a fertilizer which is relatively low in Phosphorus, so a balanced fertilizer suites them perfectly, as-well-as regular "pinchings" to keep them bushier, with more branches and flowers. Durinf flowering period, you may add some Bloom Booster.
Otherwise, Pavonia's are a cinch to grow, and well worth the little time they need.

Photographs seemingly do no justice to just just how awesome this Pavonia is. My son tells me that's because modern digital cameras are simply not able to grasp the depth and complexity of the colors that the flowers present.

How to Care for a Candle Bush Plant

Related Articles

The Candle Bush plant, also called the Candlestick plant or Senna alata, is a tropical perennial capable of reaching twelve feet high. The plants feature lush growth and yellow flowers resembling candles that bloom from late summer to fall. The Candle Bush plant is drought-tolerant and weather-tough, making it a suitable plant for inexperienced and expert gardeners alike. With origins in the tropical Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia, the Candle Bush is an annual in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 7 to 9, but grows as a perennial in Zones 10 and higher.

Select a full-sun location for the Candle Bush plant where the soil is well-draining. Partial shade is tolerable, but not ideal. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost for annual growth and transplant once the plant reaches ten to twelve inches tall. Alternatively, purchase potted seedlings from a local nursery.

Water the plant weekly when rainfall isn’t sufficient, to supply at least a half-inch of water and keep the soil moist. If grown as a perennial, the mature Candle Bush plant will become more drought resistant as it becomes established.

Weed the area around your Candle Bush plant regularly to decrease water competition. Apply one to two inches of mulch to the area, if desired, to cut down on weeds and retain water.

Feed your plant once a month with a half-strength solution of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, to encourage it to reach its full height and produce lush blooms. As you apply fertilizer, remember to feed based on the current height of the plant, not the expected height.

Propagate by collecting seeds from the plant after flowering, once the pods have turned brown and dried. Let some seeds fall to the ground for annual growing if you want the plant to attempt to self-sow.

Allow Candle Bush plants grown as annuals to die back shortly after the first frost and clear away dead growth. Prune perennial plants after blooming or seed collection, trimming each branch back to half its length. Make each cut just after a bud or branch at a 45 degree angle.

Senna Species, Candle Bush, Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Golden Candlestick


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed sow indoors before last frost

From seed direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Santa Maria la CaritГ , Campania

Altamonte Springs, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida(2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida(2 reports)

Kissimmee, Florida(2 reports)

Sarasota, Florida(2 reports)

Vero Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Valdosta, Georgia(2 reports)

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina

Corpus Christi, Texas(2 reports)

Fort Worth, Texas(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas(4 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Oct 15, 2015, gartenfraulein from Denver, CO wrote:

I received this as a gift and I live in Denver, Co in zone 5. Can I grow this indoors in a very large pot until it is warm enough to go outside? Any help is appreciated! Thank you kindly.

On Oct 12, 2012, JohnGEarth from Mackay,
Australia wrote:

While the plant may be a lovely garden ornamental it is an environmental weed outside its natural range. I have just discovered it in the Australian bush (Magnetic Island, Townsville) taking over from the natural vegetation. It will be 'eradicated' in the near future.

On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I started 12 of these plants from seed back in April. I don't think it's root hardy here, but they grow so quickly from seed it doesn't matter. I have one that's already over 8' tall w/4' limbs. I'm having issues with them falling over, and have staked several. A beautiful plant that I think will self seed in zone 8a.

On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

I started 12 of these plants from seed back in April. I don't think it's root hardy here, but they grow so quickly from seed it doesn't matter. I have one that's already over 8' tall w/4' limbs. I'm having issues with them falling over, and have staked several. A beautiful plant that I think will self seed in zone 8a.

On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

I started 12 of these plants from seed back in April. I don't think it's root hardy here, but they grow so quickly from seed it doesn't matter. I have one that's already over 8' tall w/4' limbs. I'm having issues with them falling over, and have staked several. A beautiful plant that I think will self seed in zone 8a.

On Aug 8, 2011, donnacreation from Sumter, SC wrote:

I started 12 of these plants from seed back in April. I don't think it's root hardy here, but they grow so quickly from seed it doesn't matter. I have one that's already over 8' tall w/4' limbs. I'm having issues with them falling over, and have staked several. A beautiful plant that I think will self seed in zone 8a.

On May 30, 2010, plantawaysue from Vero Beach, FL wrote:

What does the root system of this plant look like ?

On Dec 3, 2009, mjsponies from DeLand/Deleon Springs, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I received this as a seedling in a plant trade. Was amazed at how easily it grew and thrived, growing at least 6 feet in 6 months, and producing those wonderful yellow blooming "candles".
A host plant for the Cloudless Sulpher butterflies, it can get ratty looking when the caterpillars are enjoying it too, but then, that's why I grow most of what I do, to bring the butterflies and hummers in. The plant recovers nicely, as mother nature has a way of letting the butterflies know when they need to look for a new food source. ( they will only lay so many eggs on a plant before looking for a new plant). Mine's producing seed pods now, so hope to collect as I never did get cuttings taken and we can get hard freezes here. ( some years we do

some years we don't) anyway I'll plant agai. read more n.

On Jul 6, 2009, Xeramtheum from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Super easy to grow from seed and seeds stay viable for years. It is a hard coat so you need to nick it and plant to depth of seed. I use cuticle scissors and cut a sliver off of one edge and it will germinates in just a few days.

Plants grown from seed will bloom in the first year. Plants I started from seed in March and transplanted into the ground at the end of May are already over 8 feet tall and starting to bud, which works out 6 months from seed to flower. I feed mine with an all purpose fertilizer once a week or every two weeks.

On Mar 14, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Candle Bush (Senna alata) is native to the Amazon Rainforest and can be found in Peru, Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Colombia. It has been cultivated around the world as an ornamental plant and has naturalized in many tropical regions including tropical Africa, tropical Asia, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Melanesia, Polynesia, and the USA (Alabama, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). In Texas, it can be found naturalized in The following counties: Harris, Jeff Davis, Travis. An evergreen shrub or small tree in frost free locations, it is often grown as an annual in cooler climates. When it doesn't get frozen back, Senna alata can grow up to 30 ft (10 m) tall and 15 ft (3 m) wide. . read more Butterflies love the blooms.

On Jul 31, 2008, BrugDatLvr from Sanford, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Can be propagated via softwood/hardwood cuttings. Roots and grows amazingly fast. 6" cutting from local plant swap is now 6.5ft tall by 7ft spread, very well branched, all in just 2 months. Has become one of my all time favorites. Just need to see how cold hardy she will be in Zone 9B.

On Jun 18, 2008, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love this beautiful plant--my mother had one. I need plants for cut flowers for the tables in out healthy food cafe. Do these flowers last at least 2 days when cut?

On Aug 10, 2007, bsharf from Palm Coast, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is used as a background scrub in the butterfly garden at the Palm Coast Public Library. Such a dramatic plant.

On Sep 14, 2006, aprilwillis from Missouri City, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Host plant for Cloudless Sulpher butterflies & thus Cats hummingibrds also love it. Bees and wasps/hornets are attracted to it. It can be a bit messy w/ multifple petals falling & multiple seed pods. You can cut it back or prune as necessary and this tree continues to thrive and bloom all season long.

On Jul 24, 2006, gbodd from Rockport, TX wrote:

I grew this in Ft. Worth, Texas as well as down here in Holiday Beach, Tx. I have found in the past and present that if the temperature is going down to freezing or cold enough to kill the Candle Bush, I will immediately cut it down and heavily mulch for the winter of course making sure it is damp after mulching. Much success with it regrowing when the warmth of Spring comes around. In South Texas, I have noticed that the Cut Ants love to devour it over night where you have nothing left except sticks. Though, it will regrow once it is through pouting. Wonderful border bush at fences that creates privacy.

On Jul 10, 2005, budgielover from Pinellas Park, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I love my cassia alata. Grows great every year and now has a trunk like a small tree. Will brown if hit by frost but comes right back.
No problems with volunteer seedlings if you remove the pods before splitting open. Very attractive to butterflies. Also attracts fire ants but better on the plant than all over the yard. I grow it away from the house.

On Jun 29, 2005, seedlng from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

zone 10 --- Cypress Creek : Florida

Grows very well in tropical southeast Florida
Can be invasive from volunteer seedlings.
just pluck the seedlings from ground and throw away or plant

very easy to grow.
butterflies, birds love this plant.

Summer I group of 3 for hurricane protection, in the front yard. also for its flowering accent and tropical look.
Since it grows so well and fast.

NOTE: during the legendary 4 hurricane season hit we had in 2004. It was this plant that took the brunt of the wind an
debri and the house was saved. the plant looked shredded like shredded papers..but after pruning out the wind burnt leaves it grew back and flowered immediately.

Most folks . read more only know it looks nice and do not ask about it when I replace it in the bedding with bright fresh planting of impatiens.

I keep a hedge in back yard (all year long ) so I can plant more when i want to. I collect fresh seeds all the time so I do not run low or out. ya neva kno.

I keep a hedge in a corner where it is prunned to be 8-10 feet tall, looks nice and green all year,

NOTE: it slows down and hates the cold, if close to 30 --water soil to keep roots well watered and insulated. I make sure i keep my hedge well watered in cold temps under or clsoe to 30, because i have read it will die at freezing.

its better than ficus and cheaper.. and not less invasive if you know what you are doing.

makes a nice container hedge row as well.. try it, you'll see.

On Feb 7, 2005, tremax from Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:


On Dec 8, 2004, baallead from koh maak,
Thailand wrote:

Synonym: herpetic alata.
Common name: fleur palmiste, fleur dartre, candlestick senna, wild senna, ringworm cassia, guajava, ketepeng badak, flor del Secreto, Tarantana, candle bush, akapulko, man-slabriki, akapulco, gelenggang.
Family: caesalpinaceae (caesalpinia family).

This plant, a 6 - 25 feet tall, perennial shrub, has erect waxy yellow spikes that resemble fat candles before the individual blossoms open.
The large leaves are bilateral - symetrical opposed and fold together at night.
The fruit is a pod, while the seeds are small and square.
Wild senna is indigenous to Suriname and it is found in secondary vegetation or along riverbanks or moist and even wet spots.
It is also a host plant to many species of sulph. read more ur caterpillars, included the orange barred sulphure.
Guajava is a fast grower and will flower in the first year.
The leaves have laxative properties and can be effective as such.
Ringworm cassia also has antimicrobial - and antifungus activity and can be used against dermatophyte infections such as tidea pedis (athlete's foot).

Pharmacology: contains the phytochemicals antraquinone compound
(e.g. dianthrone qlycosides) and flavonoids.

In Suriname's traditional medicine, the leaves of this plant are used in the treatment of ringworm, the seeds as an anthelmintic while the roots can be used against uterus disorders. The crushed leaves are used for skin infections.

On Nov 12, 2004, ruthm from Dayton, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant grows very well here. If you cut the seed pods off when the dry, you will have a second smaller bloom. I cut several limbs on put them in water trying to save the yellow sulfer caterpillars from the lizards. It has remained green and growing in a jar of water for 3 weeks. Beautiful addition to the landscape especially when paired with the blue Philipine violet.

On Feb 1, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I found this plant growing on a genuine "restinga" environment - near the sea, on white sand, under full sun and regular rains. It seems a quite though plant to me.

It is part a creeping woody plant, part an erect shrub that doesnґt get very tall. The flower spikes are great, with round yellow flowers, and floral buds protected by bright yellow bracts. Bumblebees like them, specially.

On Sep 3, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in Dallas, Texas (U.S.), and had two Candle Trees on either side of an arbor. They did nicely and even bloomed for me. But when winter came they died and did not return. Two years later, I've noticed seedlings all over the place I have planted several in pots to see if these are the Candle Crees or just some weed. They have the nice fronds and look very delicate.

On Sep 2, 2003, ButterflyGardnr from Orlando, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is a very fast grower--I bought it in a 1 gal. pot at about 3 feet tall. It grew to about 5 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide the first year. It froze back to the ground in the winter. I cut the branches all back to the ground this spring and it resprouted very nicely. This year (yr. 2) it is already almost double the size it was last year--it's around 10 feet tall and about 8 feet wide.

The blooms are clear, bright yellow spikes. It's a sulphur caterpillar larval food plant, which is why I planted it. I have watched sulphur butterflies lay eggs on the plant, but with all the ants on it (mainly carpenter ants), the cats never seem to make it. All the ants would be the only negative I have seen about it at this point. Supposedly it self-seeds readily, but I hav. read more e not had a problem at all with that. I tried to remove seed pods as they developed last year. It's going to be harder to do that this year due to the height.

On Sep 29, 2002, TamiMcNally from Lake Placid, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Fast grower dies back after frost and the entire plant turns black, but it grows back in spring.

Attracts fire ants - so be careful when cutting blooms, tranplanting, etc.

On Aug 9, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This attractive shrub is named for its flower buds which grow in a column and look like fat yellow candles each complete with a flame! Can be grown as a cultivated shrub or small tree to 25 feet tall.

It's evergreen, with compound leaves that are up to 3 feet long and have 20 leaflets. The leaves fold together at night. Blooms are erect spikes of waxy, golden flowers. The flowers are buds covered with orange bracts which fall off when the flower opens.

The fruit is a black pod with two broad wings seeds are small, square and they rattle in the pod when ripe. A host plant to many species of sulphur caterpillars.

Growing Brazilian Candle Plant Indoors - How To Care For Pavonia Brazilian Candles - garden

rare plants - fragrant flowers - exotic fruit

Find a perfect plant for your needs

  • New Arrivals
  • Sales and Specials
  • Rare Plants
  • Blooming Trees
  • Fruit and Edibles
  • Fragrant Plants
  • Blooming Shrubs
  • Mango varieties
  • Gardenias
  • Blooming Vines
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Jasmines
  • Small perennials
  • Aquatic Plants
  • Ylang-ylang
  • Orchids and Epiphytes
  • Cacti and Succulents
  • Clerodendrums
  • Bonsai plants
  • Large size plants
  • Books and Prints
  • Seeds and Bulbs
  • Growing Supplies
  • Downloadable items

This catalog is for information only. If you don't see the price - the plant is not for sale.

Click on image to enlarge.
Pictogram Guide you may also see symbol definition in a pop-up window by mouse-pointing on pictogram

One of our most interesting shrubs. A vertical grower with green leaves and unusual dark pink and purple upright flowers with blue stamens that look like they are not fully opened. Flowers cover the whole plant sometimes. This plant excudes on stems and leaves, and after the liquid dries out, it leaves very attractive chrystals, shining in the sunlight. Prefers filtered light and high air humidity. Very cold sensitive plant.

Pavonia x gledhillii is a 19th Century hybrid of Pavonia makoyana and Pavonia multiflora.

Watch the video: Top 5 Best LED Grow Lights For Indoor Plants In 2020