Friday, May 9, 2014

Flower Friday: Attract hummingbirds to your landscape with firebush

Can you spot the ruby-throated
hummingbird going for the nectar?
Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush is a hardy, fast-growing and showy evergreen shrub. During its blooming season (which in some areas can be year-round), it produces bright orange-red tubular flowers that are filled with nectar. The blooms vary in length, attracting both butterflies and hummingbirds. The fruit of the firebush is a small, red-dark purple berry and is eaten by a variety of birds. The berries are also edible to humans, while the leaves, stems and flowers have many medicinal properties. (For more on that, check out Green Dean’s Hamelia patens page.)

Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee)
Hardiness: Found in Central and South Florida; Zones 8B–11.
Soil: Prefers dry, sandy, somewhat alkaline soils, but will adapt to a variety of conditions and is even slightly salt tolerant.
Exposure: Shade to sun. Foliage is more attractive in shady situations, flowers best in full sun.
Growth habit: Multi-stemmed spreading shrub or small tree with a rounded form. Can reach up to 10’ high and has a spread of 3’ to 6’.
Garden tips: Firebush is excellent for borders along boardwalks, paths, and sidewalks. It is fast-growing and easy to maintain.
To learn more about where firebush occurs naturally in Florida, visit http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2723.

-- Stacey Matrazzo

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