How to Grow and Care for the Coral Bean

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The Coral Bean: Care and Growing Guide

The coral bean (Erythrina herbacea) is an attractive and showy shrub that attracts interest most of the year. In spring, the coral beans are adorned with beautiful ornamental tubular flowers.

In summer and fall, the flowers grow in long pods with bright red seeds inside. These red seeds are highly toxic to humans and many animals if ingested. The coral bean foliage is heart-shaped and glossy dark green, and the trunk and branches are covered with small curved spines. The tubular flowers are also very attractive to hummingbirds, who are attracted to the sweet nectar they contain.

This shrub is easy to grow and requires little attention once established. Learn how to grow coral beans and enjoy their beauty all year round.

Botanical NameErythrina herbacea
Common NameCoral bean, Cherokee bean
Plant TypePerennial shrub
Mature Size8-10' tall
Sun ExposureDirect sun, part shade
Soil TypeSandy, well-draining soil
Soil pH5.4-7.6
Bloom TimeSpring
Flower ColorRed
Hardiness Zones8-11
Native AreaUnited States, Mexico

How to Grow the Coral Bean

The coral bean is a low-maintenance perennial shrub that grows in warm climates around the world but is native to Mexico and parts of the United States. Once established, coral grains require little maintenance.

It is a great addition to any garden bed or shrub border. The coral bean bush is also salt tolerant, making it a great choice for gardeners living in coastal landscapes.


The seeds are poisonous to humans if ingested. Be careful with the kids.


The coral bean bush blooms most abundantly when grown in a location with full sun. However, it can tolerate spotted sun and occurs naturally along the edge of woods and woods.


Coral grains adapt to a wide variety of soil types but enjoy sandy and acidic soils. Make sure the potting medium is well-drained, as coral bean roots cannot tolerate being in the water.


During the first growing season, water the coral grains once a week to help stimulate growth. This shrub does not tolerate "wet feet" and should never be left flooded. Once established, the coral bean is considered a drought-tolerant shrub and may only require supplemental watering during unusually long periods of drought.

Temperature and humidity

To survive as perennial, coral beans require warm temperatures and thrive in USDA zones 8-11. In regions that experience cold winters with freezing temperatures, coral beans can be grown annually if desired.


Once established, the coral bean bush does not require regular fertilization. However, young plants benefit from spring fertilization to help boost growth. Use a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10. This shrub also benefits from annual mulch to help retain moisture and protect the sensitive root system from cold temperatures.


Coral grains do not require heavy pruning but do enjoy light annual maintenance and general maintenance. Don't prune during the first growing season. In the spring of the second growing season, prune dead or cold-damaged plants and trim the shape as needed.

Propagating Coral Bean

The coral bean bush can be propagated by woody cuttings and division. Semi-hardwood cuttings can be collected in late summer or early fall, once the stems are almost fully mature.

The shrub can be technically propagated by dividing the roots at any time, but best done when the coral grain is well established with overgrowth that can be easily separated.

Although coral beans can be successfully propagated by both methods, it is generally more efficient to start with a plant grown in a well-established nursery or shrub, as propagation success rates vary.


Coral bean seeds are highly toxic to people and many animals when ingested. Make sure children and pets stay away from coral bean bushes.

Growing from Seed

Coral bean seeds can be purchased at a nursery or garden center or collected directly from the plant. The seeds can be collected in late summer or early fall. Be sure to always wear protective gloves when handling coral bean seeds, as the attractive red seeds are poisonous!

To help increase germination rates, coral bean seeds benefit from scarification. Plant the seeds in the ground when spring temperatures are consistently high. If you are planting multiple shrubs together, make sure the seeds are spaced three to five feet when sowing.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Coral Bean

Source: Vivero Growers Nursery

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