By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Firebush, native to the southern United States and as far south as Argentina, is an eye-catching tropical shrub, appreciated for its blazing reddish-orange blooms and attractive foliage. How much water does firebush need? This hardy hummingbird magnet is practically bullet-proof once established and tends to be relatively drought tolerant, but it does regular irrigation, especially during the early years. Keep reading and we’ll discuss firebush water requirements.
About Firebush Watering
As a general rule, water firebush at least once every week until the plant has been in your garden for a full year. If you live in an extremely hot climate, firebush water requirements may be higher during the intense heat of summer, especially for shrubs planted in full sunlight.
Watering a firebush after the first year? Firebush watering requirements decrease substantially after the first year, but regular irrigation is still a must for a healthy plant. In most climates a deep watering every couple of weeks in the absence of rain is adequate. Again, more frequent irrigation may be needed if summer weather is hot and dry or windy.
Be sure to allow plenty of time for the top 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm.) of soil to dry out between each watering, but don’t allow it to become bone dry. Keep in mind that firebush needs regular irrigation, but soggy, poorly drained soil can kill the plant.
Firebush Irrigation Tips
Be sure your firebush is planted in well-draining soil.
Firebush watering should be done slowly and deeply using a garden hose or drip irrigation system at the base of the plant. Deep watering will promote long roots and a healthier, drought-tolerant shrub.
Spread a generous layer of mulch such as bark chips or pine needles around the tree to minimize evaporation. However, don’t allow the mulch to mound against the trunk. Replenish the mulch as it decomposes or blows away. (Be sure to add a fresh layer before temperatures drop in autumn.)
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Jatropha is the one shrub you can count on for year round blooms, with bright scarlet flower clusters that attract butterflies.
A delightful shrub for a sunny spot in any size South Florida landscape, this pretty plant grows full and lush with regular trimming, and makes an excellent accent or anchor for a garden bed with other butterfly attracting plants.
Not well-suited for sheared, manicured hedges, these plants are better in a more natural form. But with frequent "haircuts" (minor trimming back of branches) they can be kept nicely rounded for a formal landscape.
You can clean up the base of the plant as it gets larger to create a multi-trunk tree - or buy a single trunk jatropha tree from the nursery, if you prefer.
There are variations of this plant - a similar one that blooms pink in sun or shade, as well as others with totally different foliage and smaller flowers - but this is the best of the bunch for an outstanding landscape shrub.
'Compacta' is the most popular variety for South Florida and the one commonly sold in plant nurseries.
Butterflies love these plants.
These are evergreen shrubs that need a well-drained location in full to part sun.
They're moderate to fast growers and need the warmth of Zone 10.
You can keep this plant about 5 or 6 feet tall (or larger if you like - even 8 feet).
The shrub literally blooms all the time - even if winter chill has caused some leaf drop (which it often does).
Add top soil or organic peat moss and composted cow manure to the hole when you plant.
Trim regularly to keep the plant full and bushy and do a hard pruning in spring (late March or early April).
You can do several hard prunings throughout warm weather if you want.
This shrub is drought-tolerant once established.
It will do best with a regular irrigation schedule and time to dry out between waterings.
Fertilize 3 times a year - spring, summer, and autumn, with a top quality granular fertilizer. You can supplement feedings with bone meal and/or liquid to keep the blooms coming on strong.
Plant 3 feet apart to grow as a hedge or privacy screen.
In a mixed bed, allow at least 3 or 4 feet between it and other shrubs.
Come out from the house 3 or more feet.
If placing along a walk or drive, come in 4 feet.
This plant will do fine in a large container, and you can surround it with smaller things that like the same amount of moisture.
Landscape uses for jatropha
- entryway accent
- butterfly garden plant
- lining the driveway
- backdrop for smaller plants
- by the entrance to a drive or walk
- corner-of-the-house shrub
- privacy screen
- along the edge of a porch or patio
- along a fence
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? YES
Other plants you might like: Firespike, Firebush
Is firebush a perennial?
To grow firebush in your garden, plant it in late spring or early summer. Make sure the soil drains well, because this plant will not tolerate soggy roots. Water your Hamelia regularly until it has become established. Prune it as needed to keep it to a reasonable size but avoid over-pruning.
Likewise, what does a firebush plant look like? Native to Florida, firebush is a tropical landscape shrub that shows off tube-shaped yellow-and-orange flowers. In areas that don't see frost, this flowering shrub blooms all year long in the North, where it's often grown as an annual or as a container-garden plant, firebush blooms without stop until frost.
Consequently, how much sun does a firebush need?
Firebush Culture At A Glance Plant in full sun (i.e. at least 8–10 hours per day). Eastern, southern or western exposures are usually suitable. Must have good soil drainage.
Question: Hamelia patens (Firebush) is listed as an invasive plant at Invasive.Org, the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, which partners with the US Forest Service, Univ of GA and others. LBJ website has listed it as Native.