One of the items on my September To-Do List is to plant a few more perennials, specifically the Firebush. For most of us Floridians, now is a good time to plant the Firebush – Hamelia patens. It is a large perennial shrub (or small tree) that is native to the American subtropics and tropics. If you live in colder climates, you would need to use it as an annual. It does well in pots so you should be able to place it in a container and then bring it inside to a sunny location during the winter months.
While a lot of landscaping plants don’t look their best in the fall months, Firebush does. As our temperatures drop, the leaves develop a beautiful orange-burgundy color. Suddenly it becomes ablaze with vibrant color, complete with small tubular flowers. When most plants are starting to wind down, Firebush gives us a joyous pop of autumn color.
Here at our house we use the Firebush plants in mixed borders, and also as a stand-alone shrub in other areas. If you have a butterfly or hummingbird garden, then this is one plant that you simply must include in your garden. We have several Firebush plants in our yard, scattered throughout. While we don’t currently have a garden specifically for birds or butterflies, this year brought us an abundance of hummingbirds. This has never happened before. They are always joyously fluttering around the Firebush plant. It also seems that birds of every variety appear to relish the berries. I’m a bird lover, so it always brings me joy when I see that Mother Nature approves of what we plant in our yard.
If you can’t find the plant at your local nursery, you can find them here. Amazon also has a nice hummingbird feeder that I hope to purchase soon. Now that I have a population of hummingbirds coming into my yard, I want to provide them with an additional and durable food source. The feeder should accomplish this, especially if our winters get so cold that the firebush plants start to die back.
Firebush is salt tolerant and will grow in any kind of soil as long as it is well drained. They like full sun, but can do fairly well in partial shady areas too. From personal experience, they seem to bloom more when they have full sun exposure. We enjoy the Firebush color all season, but I feel it really pays homage to the fall season – my most favorite time of the year. Put simply, the Firebush plant will provide beautiful color in your fall landscape.