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Firebush (Hamelia patens)


Firebush ‘Firefly’ (Hamelia patens var. ‘Firefly’),
above, is a new cultivar that has smaller
leaves and flowers than the traditional varieties.

. . . is a fast growing woody perennial for zones 8-11. It blooms bright orange-red tubular shaped flowers from late spring until the first frost, and is attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Birds are attracted to the ripe black berries in the fall. The leaves turn beautiful shades of orange at the first hint of cold weather. Its common names include scarlet bush or hummingbird bush.

Will it take our heat?

Firebush is both heat and drought tolerant once established in the garden. It is tolerant of a wide range of soils and has no serious insect or disease problems. It is moderately tolerant of salt spray as well. Firebush prefers full sun, but can be grown in partial shade. A delight to grow, it is easily propagated by taking soft woody cuttings in the late spring or by planting seeds.

Just how tall is it?

Like many butterfly plants In North Florida, it will die back after the first freeze, but will grow back in the Spring. It reaches heights of 3 – 5′. In South Florida where it is evergreen, it may grow as tall as 15′ if not pruned and shaped.

Other juicy tidbits:

Firebush is actually a small tree in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, and is native to the American tropics and sub-tropics. Its range is from Florida to Argentina. The reddish orange flowers are borne atop reddish stems and produce small berry fruits. When the berries first appear they are green and slowly ripen first yellow, red and then black. Quite a contrast to have all this color on top of such dark green foliage.

Floridata: Hamelia patens
U of F Nassau County Cooperative Extension newsletter: Horticulture: Hamelia patens
Wikipedia: Hamelia patens
Photo courtesy Grandiflora

About the author

Green Genie

The Green Genie is the voice of AskTheGreenGenie brand -- organic, edible landscaping for home gardening made fun ! We're passionate about helping home gardeners to get more out of their gardens and enjoy the fruits of their labors -- literally. Organic gardening is a given. Fight pests effectively and actually win the battles. Oh, and palm trees -- I know, they're not all edible, but we love the ambiance!