Written by Don Richardson

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Any reference to medicinal or culinary use of plants or plant parts should in no way be considered an endorsement by The Ocala Food Forest or its staff. Research is crucial in safe and proper consumption or experimentational use of any plant.

Hamelia Patens, also known as firebush, is a stunning plant that adds color and beauty to any landscape. This evergreen shrub belongs to the family of Rubiaceae and is native to the tropical regions of Central and South America. However, it is also commonly grown in the southern parts of the United States, particularly in Florida, where it is used as an ornamental plant. Hamelia Patens is popular for its brilliant red-orange flowers that bloom all year round and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Florida Native Plant
  • Family: Rubiaceae
  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub
  • Growth habit and mature size: Multi-stemmed shrub that can reach a height of 8 to 15 feet and a width of 4 to 8 feet.
  • Sun exposure requirements: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil type: This plant prefers well-draining soils that are rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils.
  • pH range: pH 6.0 to 7.5
  • Moisture needs: Moist but well drained soil.
  • Seasons of bloom: Spring to fall
  • Native plant in: Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean
  • Native range in the USA: Florida, Texas, and other southern states.
  • Hardiness zone: 8b to 11
  • Temperature tolerance: Can tolerate temperatures down to 15°F
  • Self-pollinating: Yes
  • Edible plant: No
  • Medicinal plant: Yes
Landscape uses: Hamelia Patens is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways. It is an excellent choice for adding color to borders, hedges, and mass plantings. It can also be used as a specimen plant or in mixed borders with other shrubs and perennials.

Growing tips: To keep your Hamelia Patens healthy and thriving, ensure that it is planted in well-draining soil, and receives adequate water and sunlight. Pruning is not necessary, but it can help maintain the shape of the plant.

What the plant attracts: Hamelia patens attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Pest & diseases: The plant is relatively pest and disease-free. However, it may be susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs, especially in hot and dry weather conditions.

Cautions: Hamelia Patens may attract some pests, including spider mites and whiteflies. Regular monitoring and treatment may be required to keep these pests under control.

Other Important information: Hamelia Patens is deciduous in areas where temperatures drop below freezing. However, it will grow back from its roots if it dies back in cold winter temperatures.
In conclusion, Hamelia Patens is a stunning plant that is easy to grow and maintain. It is a great choice for gardeners who want to add color and vibrancy to their landscape. With its bright red-orange flowers and ability to attract pollinators, this plant is a must-have for any garden. So why not give it a try and add a touch of tropical beauty to your landscape today?


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