Hamelia patens is an ornamental, fast-growing, flowering, perennial shrub or small tree which can grow up to 15 feet in height under ideal conditions. Firebush has whorled leaves, usually with three but sometimes up to 7 at each node. The leaves are elliptic to oval, about 15 cm long, and gray-pubescent underneath with reddish veins and petioles. They are reflexed upward from the midvein. Throughout the year, Scarlet bush produces showy terminal clusters (cymes) of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular blooms, each about 1.9 cm, long. Even the blossom stems are red. It also produces a showy fruit, the edible juicy berry turns from green to yellow, to red, and finally, black when ripe. A Scarlet bush plant usually has flowers and fruit in various stages. Firebush plants are used in folk medicine for a range of ailments.
Scientific Name: Hamelia patens
Synonyms: Duhamelia odorata, Duhamelia patens, Duhamelia sphaerocarpa, Hamelia brachystemon, Hamelia brittoniana, Hamelia coccinea, Hamelia corymbosa, Hamelia erecta, Hamelia intermedia, Hamelia lanuginosa, Hamelia latifolia, Hamelia nodosa, Hamelia pedicellata, Hamelia sphaerocarpa, Hamelia suaveolens, Hamelia tubiflora, Hamelia verticillata, Hamelia viridifolia, Schoenleinia thyrsoidea.
Common Names: Firebush, Hummingbird bush, Scarlet bush, and Redhead.
How to grow and maintain Hamelia patens:
It does best in full sun (best blossoming occurs in full sun) but quite well in partial shade. It becomes leggy in shade.
It grows well in a variety of soil types, average moist, well-drained soils.
It prefers an ideal temperature 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It can withstand very cold temperature up to -1 degree Celsius.
Water your plant regularly during the growing season and always keep the soil moist but not soggy. During the winter season, reduce watering and you can allow the topsoil to become slightly dry between each watering.
Scarlet bush needs no fertilizing as it can also withstand salty winds so it is often developing on the coastal side. If necessary a little measure of liquid fertilizer is given to the plant for the better development.
It can be easily propagated by softwood cuttings in spring or by seed.
Prune Hummingbird bush any time it starts to grow out of bounds and keep them to the desired height. Hummingbird bush is typically pruned no shorter than 5 or 8 feet, since pruning too hard or too frequently may reduce blooming.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problems. Hummingbirds are attracted by its flowers.