In the southeast, a great native plant is the firebush. Florida homeowners love how it attracts butterflies and birds to their landscapes.
Characteristics of the Firebush
Firebush is a semi-woody, perennial shrub. Gardeners love firebush since it creates flowers from first frost to late spring. The vivid red flowers entice butterflies and hummingbirds such as the gulf fritillary butterflies and zebra longwing.
The plant’s mature size will be based on where it is planted. In Florida, it might get up to 15 feet tall, although it can simply be kept between 5 to 8 feet tall. It works well in mixed borders, hedges, or as a stand-alone shrub. It will die back after the first freeze, but will re-grow in the springtime, making it what folks call a root-hardy perennial.
Also, since it is heat and drought tolerant once established, it can thrive in a host of soils and has no severe disease and insect issues. Contact Tampa Tree Service so that we can send a certified arborist to find out which soils will work best for you.
Dwarf firebush is a related plant that is littler, makes light-colored flowers with smooth leaves. Tampa tree care nurseries will at times sell these same plants under the name dwarf or compact Hamelia patens. There is also a new type called H. patens Firefly that has flowers and leaves that are around half the normal size.
Care and Planting
Firebush can be planted in late summer or late spring. It will grow and thrive best if put in the total sun. Also, it can be put in partial shade. Firebush is somewhat tolerant of salt spray, which can be useful for gardeners in coastal places. Firebush can be put in any well-drained soil. It thrives successfully if the plant is watered regularly until it is formed.
These plants might need to be pruned to allow them to remain at a preferred height, particularly in South Florida where they grow all year long. Firebush is usually pruned no littler than five or eight feet. Tree trimming too often or too hard might hinder blooming.