Firebush, Scarlet Bush

This evergreen shrub works well in a perennial border or in a butterfly garden.

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Plant type: Evergreen shrub or small tree
Botanical name: Hamelia patens
Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 to 10, herbaceous perennial to Zone 8

Also called Texas firecracker bush. Aptly named for its clusters of orange- to scarlet-red, tubular blooms that resemble little displays of fireworks. Has red stems and gray-green leaves. Where grown as a perennial, it will be evergreen. May be deciduous in marginally hardy climates. Used as an annual in colder climates where it won't overwinter. Blooms all summer long. Produces black fruits that birds enjoy. Plant size ranges from six to 10 feet tall and five to six feet wide. As an annual, plant size ranges from one to three feet tall and as wide.

How to use it: In masses, along a border or in containers. Use in a sunny, mixed perennial border. Good for a bird or butterfly garden.

Culture: Performs best in a moist, well-drained site; requires good drainage. Plant in full sun. Tolerates heat and salt spray. Where it is marginally hardy, provide winter protection to help it overwinter. Propagated through cuttings or seed. No serious problems with pests or diseases.

Special notes: Attracts wildlife, including birds (especially hummingbirds), bees and butterflies. Native to southern Florida as well as Central and South America.

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