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JUSTICIA spicigera

Image of Justicia spicigera

James H. Schutte

Family

Acanthaceae

Botanical Name

JUSTICIA spicigera

Plant Common Name

Mexican Honeysuckle, Mohintli

General Description

The soft, velvety stems and leaves of Mexican honeysuckle are accompanied by loose clusters of long, tubular orange flowers nearly year round. A tender tropical evergreen shrub, it hails from Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. It is rounded and bushy, but it has long, spreading branches that sometimes flop to the soil and root.

Its oval or lance-shaped leaves are arching and have noticeable veins. They are medium green with hints of yellow-green. Peak flowering is in spring and fall, but lighter flushes of blooms occur through the winter too. The small, loose clusters of long, bright orange, tubular flowers arise along the branch tips and are a great draw to hummingbirds.

Grow Mexican honeysuckle in full sun. It will grow well in a wide array of soil types as long as they have good drainage. Sandy soils with average fertility are optimal. Older, leggier specimens can be cut back severely and will completely rejuvenate. The poorer the soils the plants are growing in, the leggier they tend to become. It is root hardy in areas with frost-nipping winters but will not tolerate hard freezes. Mexican is best planted among other tropical plants with brightly colored foliage. Plant as a clambering, sprawling specimen shrub or in billowy groups.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Width

    3'-7' / 0.9m - 2.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Fall, Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Cushion/Mound-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Orange

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Edging, Foundation, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No