Cassia (Senna bicapsularis)

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Plant Details

Category: Nursery
Light: Part Shade
Bloom Season: Spring, Autumn, Winter
Height: 6-8' / 
Space: 3-4' / 
Zones: 10, 11, 12
Lowest Temp: 30° to 40°F / 
-1° to 4°C
Colors: Yellow

Basic Care

Plant in well drained soil, fertilize regularly.


Water regularly until established.


Ordinary, well-drained soil.


All-purpose balanced fertilizer.

attracts pollinators

Attracts Pollinators

attracts birds

Attracts Birds

attracts butterflies

Attracts Butterflies

Ornamental Foliage

Good Fall Color



border plants



Aside from its beautiful foliage, brilliant golden-yellow flowers, and attractive seed pods this plant is also a host plant for Sulphur Butterflies. The butterflies lay their eggs on the plant and it provides a food source for the caterpillars when they emerge. In frost-free climates Cassia can grow to be a small tree. Prune freely to maintain desired size and shape.


Plant among other shrubs that bloom during different seasons. Works well in a large border, or foundation planting near a building.

Cassia (Senna bicapsularis) Care Guide

Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.

Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won’t crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.

To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.

To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.

Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.

Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.

Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.

Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant’s size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.

Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.

Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can’t be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.

Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.

Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.

Companion/Combination Plants


  1. Michelle Holden

    Could use help with what they called the butterfly tree, I had 3 trees, one was struck by lightning so I have two small trees. We just finished a bloom and I noticed on each tree a pod one is longer and drier they other. The long dried one dropped off in a pod form. This tree was planted for my boy when he passed, He arranged butterflies to be released and had a nursery planted our trees. I would love to see if I can plant the pod and attempt to grow a David’s Smile tree? Can you help!!

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Michelle,
      What a wonderful way to honor your son. You’ll want to use the seed from the darker, dryer cassia pod that has dropped from the tree as it should contain fully mature seeds. We found a helpful video from Lucky Dog Traveler on YouTube that takes you through the steps for preparing and germinating Cassia seeds. With a steady supply of seeds, you should have lots of opportunity to attempt starting new plants so we’re pretty confident you will eventually be successful. Note that this plant was reclassified to the genus Senna. In case you do further research this can be a point of confusion since both genus names are still in use.

  2. Laura

    Hi! I got my pant from a nursery about 1.5 years ago. It only managed to grow tall, with 2 main branches but they’re very thin still. I just took the courage to prune the top parts and hope it grows thicker. My question is, can I propagate the parts I cut off? They’re about 8 inches long. I removed the firsts few leaves and put them in water. Do you think this could work? Thanks!

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Laura,
      Pruning was a logical step to encourage a bushier cassia plant. It is possible to start cassia from cuttings in water or by dipping in a rooting powder and sticking in potting soil. The “green wood”, or younger, greener part of the stem may give better results than the woodier part of the stem. If you start the cuttings in water, it’s advisable to transition them early on to soil so the root development is adapted to soil, rather than to water. The longer you keep the cuttings in water, the more challenged they will be to develop the fine roots better suited to absorbing water and nutrients from soil.


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