By Lynn Barber

Firebush, Scarletbush, Hamelia patens, is a native, large shrub that performs well in central and south Florida, zones 9-11. It is fast growing and can reach a height of 5-20 ft. and spread of 5-8 ft. It tolerates any soil pH from 4.5-8.0. Well drained to medium drained soil moisture is needed. Any soil texture works, from clay loam to sandy loam, from sand to sandy clay. Firebush has medium drought tolerance and low to no salt tolerance. It performs best in partial shade and does well in full sun or partial sun/partial shade. This shrub produces orange/red flowers year-round and attracts butterflies, birds, bees and hummingbirds and a lot of them. The foliage is more attractive in the shade, but this plant flowers best in the sun. Either way, this plant is a beautiful landscape addition. Firebush dies back in freezes but returns in the spring.

I have several small Firebush in my home landscape that I would like to give to a good home. So, if you are interested in a Firebush plant for your landscape, email me
at barberL@hillsboroughcounty.org. The first five emails I receive will be winners. If you are a winner, I will email you to let you know. You need to pick up the plant at our office in Seffner within one week after this article is published in the Osprey Observer. We hope you will stop by the Extension office to view The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden, our perennial garden and to see our Firebush.

Morrisa Morris said, “I just love my Firebush. I cringe every time my daughter prunes it, but the great news is that it keeps coming back even better than it was before.” Take time for a nice glass of iced tea and a good book (gardening, of course) on your front porch or lanai. Life’s too short not to garden. For assistance with horticultural questions, call 744-5519 or visit us at the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, 5339 C.R. 579 in Seffner. More gardening information is available at hillsborough.ifas.ufl.edu and edis.ifas.ufl.edu.  Remember to reuse, reduce and recycle.