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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Native plant adds ‘boom’ to garden

By Staff | Apr 6, 2016

The firebush, a native plant, adds color and wildlife to a garden. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Firebush (Hamelia patens)

First impression: Great plant for a big wow factor. Long tubular fiery orange red flowers clustered to resemble fireworks, everyone loves this plant, hummingbirds, butterflies, pollinators, and us gardeners. Natural shape with dark green leaves that also turn reddish hence the name it looks like it’s on fire and gee it’s a bush. Fruits appear with the flowers and are bright red and juicy, that wildlife adore.

Upon further investigation: Our star is my number one favorite native plant and is a paradise garden must have. It will put on a show where ever you plant it, alone or grouped together.

With a mature height of 10 feet, it can be left natural, or groomed into a tree like specimen. It explodes with ever-flowering bright reddish orange tubular flowers. After the blooms juicy black berries appear that our songbirds adore.

I encourage you to try this for plant for borders and natural fences. Its dense growth habit lends itself to privacy with a wonderful display of color and habitat friendliness.

Firebush is a great food source for birds, butterflies, a huge variety of pollinators and wildlife. The small warblers are attracted to the insects that hover around the flowers. The mockingbirds, cardinals, blue jays, thrashers, and catbirds not only look for insects and fruit, but hide from predators.

As a native plant it is a survivor with little or no pests, drought tolerant and in the few diseases category.

Remember, your plants whether exotic or native need initial attentive care for a healthy beginning. Plant in a hole dug a little larger than the root ball. The most common planting error is placing your new addition too deep, so plant to the level your plant was in the container or higher. The trunk is extremely sensitive, and planting too deeply will cause root suffocation, nutritional deficiencies, root rot disease, and frequently, loss of your plant.

Once planted add mulch to cover the roots (2-3inches deep) for cooling, amending soil, and water retention. Watering is essential to establish your newbie. Newly planted landscape need daily watering for approximately two to three weeks. Once they are established, supplemental watering might be needed when the plant exhibits that weeping quality, telling you that it’s thirsty.


Ever blooming

Drought tolerant

Very attractive to wildlife

Native status

Blooming brings in the bees

Must have for hummers

Everyone needs at least one

Fireworks without the booms.


Periodically has more seeds than blooms

Does not like wet feet

Who doesn’t love hummers?

Conclusion: Are those fireworks going off in your garden? Oh gee, its only Firebush a winner of a native plant that’s sure to bring a big bang of beauty to your habitat and backyard oasis. So many blossoms, so little time in your tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!