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HAMELIA patens

Image of Hamelia patens

Carol Cloud Bailey

Family

Rubiaceae

Botanical Name

HAMELIA patens

Plant Common Name

Firebush, Scarletbush

General Description

Across its native range of South Florida, the Caribbean and Tropical Americas, this sun-loving evergreen produces clusters of red floral tubes with yellow-orange centers, on red stems from spring through early fall. Its leaves are broad and fuzzy and produces bluish-black berries after a long bloom season. Butterflies frequent the flowers and songbirds enjoy the fruits for a meal.

Firebush performs best in full sun but is shade tolerant and will adequately grow in any soil provided that there is ample drainage. Best overall plant form occurs in full sun in a fertile soil. Once established, they are drought, heat and humidity tolerant. It can be utilized in relative proximity in gardens near the seashore. The naturally occuring variety glabra is a denser shrub with smooth leaves that can be trained into a cute small tree. Cultivar 'Compacta' is a smaller, more manageable plant in the landscape especially in gardens dedicated to attracting wildlife. It can also be treated as an annual in colder climates.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 4

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    5'-20' / 1.5m - 6.1m (10)

  • Width

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m (6)

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall, Late Fall

  • Native To

    Southeastern United States, Mexico, Caribbean, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site, Pollution, Drought, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Narrow Upright/Fastigiate

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red, Orange, Crimson

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Fruit Color

    Blue, Plum, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Orange

  • Bark Color

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds, Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes