Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hamelia patens, Firebush, backlit by afternoon sun lights up the small bed abutting the driveway

As much despair as I feel about the political/ecological/sociological situation in Florida, it cheers me to realize that a handful of state native plants have made it into the core of landscape standards. Firebush, Hamelia patens, is one; another is Coontie, Zamia pumila, a cool cycad not quite visible at the base of the Live oak in the top picture. I planted that Firebush in October 2007. It was a out a foot tall in a 6" pot. Untroubled by drought, it has grown steadily and flowered consistently. The fall/winter color is obviously great and the orange tubular flowers are present year-round when temperatures stay above 50F or so. Hummingbirds love it and so do I. 

This past August I found a pot of Dwarf firebush at a nursery, actually at Home Depot, and since it looked like a miniature version of the H. patens. I decided to give it a try. It doesn't have the great fall color of patens, but possibly it needs a more established root system. It has more flowers on it now than its larger sibling does; I wonder if that doesn't indicate a better adaptation to local climate in patens than macrantha which is native to warmer locations farther south. The fruits are clearly distinct. The top picture is macrantha, the bottom patens.

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