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Plant of the Month: Firebush

By Mary Townsley

Firebush (Hamelia patens), native to the tropical Americas, likes our humid Gulf Coast heat. From late spring to fall frost, firebush's numerous tubular red/orange flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, making it a terrific addition to a butterfly or pollinator garden. In our zone 8, this "root hardy" perennial dies back after frost but will return as a dense, 4-5 feet high and wide, shrub. Where freeze appears more than frost, treat firebush as an annual. Look for non-native cultivars in your local nursery: “Dwarf” has smaller leaves and flowers that may be more yellow (center), while “Lime Sizzler” has variegated leaves (right). Plant your firebush in full sun and enjoy the view!

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