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Scientific Name: Hamelia patens

History/general species info: Also known as a Scarletbush. According to Dough Welsh, A&M Horticulture Department: "people who want long-lived flowering plants, which will provide a prolonged flower display in the hottest, driest locations, should consider firebush." In Mexico, a fermented drink is said to be made from the fruit. The leaves and stems have been used for tanning and a concoction reportedly is used for various medicinal purposes.

Characteristics: Tropical/subtropical shrub. Low maintenance. Evergreen. Long summer to fall blooming season. Edible small, dark fruit. Drought tolerant. Thrives in any soils. Large root-hardy perennial shrub. Deer resistant.

Designated as a Texas Superstar®. It isn’t easy to become a Texas Superstar® - only the toughest, most reliable and best-looking plants make the cut. Every plant earning the Texas Superstar® designation undergoes several years of extensive field trials by Texas A&M.

Leaves appear in whorls of between 3 and 7 at the nodes of the stems, and are about six inches long and lightly haired. Another common name for H. patens is Hummingbird bush. Hummingbirds are attracted to the tubular red flowers and add another value to the plant.

Native: no, Florida

Flower: yes; red

Planting / Care: Thrives all well-draining soils. Requires only occasional shearing to keep it in a nearly perpetual state of bloom. Best time to prune is in late winter/early spring before it begins putting on new growth. Useful as a container plant in masses or located at the back of wide border plantings. Removing dead blooms is not necessary. The flowers are actually in the bud stage for longer than the mature flowers last. And because it blooms constantly, buds, blooms and berries are usually present at the same time.

Size and Spacing: Height: 12’ Spread: 8’

Light requirement:  Full sun

Wildlife: Hummingbirds, song birds, butterflies

Texas Superstar

A&M Horticulture Update

Photo Credit: Pamela Larson and Ernie Edmonson