Hamelia Patens commonly known as Fire Bush, Scarlet Bush, Hummingbird Bush, and Firecracker Bush came from the family of Rubiaceae. This plant classifies as an evergreen shrub that matures quickly up to six feet tall and wide with bright green foliage that has a pointed tip and grows moderately upright and spreading in clusters along the branches. In cooler temperatures, the foliage turns crimson-green while tubular, orange-red blossoms appear in Spring.
Firebush really likes the heat. Cold tolerance is pretty much nothing. When temperatures approach 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the leaves will start to turn color. Any close to freezing, and the foliage will die, though, they do recover quickly in warm weather. Thus, making this plant surprisingly tolerant to Phoenix desert climate. Be careful though as summer western exposures can literally “burn up” the firebush!
This wonderful species can be grown from full sun to partial shade, avoiding western exposures and reflecting light. In Phoenix, firecracker bush is used almost exclusively as flowering shrubs for oasis and mesic plantings. They bloom flowers, mostly showy orange to scarlet or crimson, most of the year which attracts hummingbirds! They do bear fruits, black and berry-like in structure, and are completely edible. Many gardeners turn them into jams, jellies, and/or syrups.
This plant tolerates a variety of soils as long as they are well-draining. Fire bush requires regular supplemental irrigation especially during the summer months to help it survive. Lightly prune them, head back, only occasionally.
Good news, these bushes are relatively pest free, so growing them does not harm any of your fur pets! Fun fact, modern researchers have found that extracts of firebush contain several active photo chemicals which have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Thus, making it known more for its herbal properties than for its ornamental value.
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