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Products > Hamelia patens
Hamelia patens - Firebush

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Rubiaceae (Madders)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Red
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [H. erecta ]
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Hamelia patens (Firebush) - A large shrub that can reach 12 to 15 feet tall but is more often seen growing to 3 to 5 feet tall in California gardens. It has 3 to 8 inch long pointed leaves, held in clusters of threes. that are a bright green with purple-bronze highlights that darken to a brownish-red in fall before dropping off - this plant, while evergreen in warmer climates, is deciduous in California. In late summer appear the dense clusters of attractive buds and then tubular 3/4 inch long orange-red flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. The dark fruit that follows is edible and also is attractive to birds. Plant is a sunny location in well-drained soil and irrigate regularly to very little. Though tropical this plant loves heat and dry conditions and though it will grow in shade it will not flower well there and does poorly in heavy wet soils. It has proven hardy to the mid 20s in California gardens and will respond from harder freezes by resprouting from the ground, though it is slow to re-emerge. Pinch regularly to keep a tighter plant and trim back hard every few years. This plant is native to Florida, West Indies, Mexico south to Paraguay and Bolivia. In its native habitat this plant is well known more for its herbal properties. The small black fruit is made into a fermented drink and the leaves and stems used for tanning or for herbal treatment of cuts and bruises, and for lotions. Other common names include hummingbird bush and scarlet-bush. In recent years this plant has been promoted as a heat and sun loving annual bedding plant. Our thanks to local Santa Barbara nurseryman Mike Tully of Terra Sol Nursery, for our cutting stock of this plant.  The information on this page is based on our library and online research, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others, and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Hamelia patens.