If I could only have two shrubs in my landscape, one would be firebush, also known as scarlet bush or Hamelia patens. This is a Florida native that produces orange-red tubular flowers most of the year. Not only is it a beautiful landscape addition, it attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. What more can you ask for?
This shrub prefers full sun to partial shade. In full sun, it flowers the most, although some consider the foliage (yellow/orange) to be less attractive. Foliage in the shade is green. Mine generally die back to the ground in the winter, but the roots sprout quickly when the weather warms.
It grows quickly and can reach a height of 5-20 feet and a spread of 5-8 feet, so be sure to give it room to grow. Firebush performs well as a border plant, an accent, for screening an area or in a massive planting—providing there is sufficient space. Prune as you see fit.
This shrub prefers well to medium-well drained soil moisture, has medium drought tolerance and low to no salt tolerance. It is easy to propagate using cuttings or fresh seeds. The fruits/seeds are black and fleshy and attract birds. The seeds are suited for bird and human consumption, although I have never eaten any…yet.
For more information on this plant, see https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp237.
The second shrub that is a must have in my landscape is beautyberry, also known as Callicarpa americana, which will be featured in my article next month! Check out the University of Florida’s website, https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn-and-garden/native-plants/, to learn more about Florida natives.
Visit our calendar of events for gardening workshops and other educational opportunities at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/. Please contact our office if you have questions at 744-5519. Thank you, and be safe.