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Hamelia patens

 
Hamelia patens
firebush; scarlet bush

Common name firebush; scarlet bush
Family rubiaceae
Life cycle shrub (Z8-11)
Flowers red-orange (spring-fall)
Size to 15'
Light sun-part shade

Evergreen shrub that shows off clusters of red-orange flowers throughout the growing season. Each flower is tubular, flared a bit at the end; together with the red flower stems, the clusters pack a visual punch. Firebush is native to the tropical Americas, from south Florida to central South America. It is likely to die back to the ground in true zone 8 winters, but will return from the roots to form a small shrub, perhaps two foot tall. A mature shrub can grow much taller. Hummingbirds like the flowers, and birds like the small berries that follow them.
After a particularly hard freeze in January 2018, our firebush didn't show any sign of life even as other die-back plants were pushing up new growth, so I pulled the shrub up and disposed of it in early spring. Two years later, with other plantings having grown up around that area, I was surprised to see a firebush had returned and was flowering; apparently I left a piece of the mother plant in place, and it slowly worked up enough energy to stage a return!

Hamelia patens
Return of the given-up-for-dead plant, May 2020

In our garden, this plant grows in the following areas: houston front yard, back fence border

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Last modified: May 30, 2020
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