New thread: Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #3

Jetersville, VA

Hummingbird SUPER PLANT #3 was originally native to Mexico and Gulf Coast states. Now it has naturalized over a much wider area from Texas through parts of South Carolina. Pure strains of this semi-wooded plant may reach 8' x 8'. Dwarf varieties are much smaller. Horticulturists claim temperature tolerance down to about 25 degrees, however a more conservative approach might be prudent. Growth trials in Southern Virginia (7b) indicate severe damage at freezing point. Even with mulching, plants will not sprout again from the roots when temperatures drop into the teens. Blooming will not occur when night time temperatures dip below 45 degrees. Yet, hummingbirds find the clusters of yellow, tubular blooms irresistible. Above zone 8b, growers should plan on potting the plant and bringing it inside when cold weather arrives. Flowers from this plant produce such abundant nectar flow that it may be a regional favorite for hummers. In the photo, depth of field was deliberately distorted to render the blooms slightly out of focus. What is this plant?

Thumbnail by HBJoe
NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

Okay. Isn't that Mexican Firebush? I must say, on rare occasion it can get down into the teens here...not for the last couple years, however. And ours must be real cold-hardy. It always comes back from the roots the next spring without fail. I don't water them any more. But we've had such a really bad drought, since 2006, and this summer is just horrible, with even trees dying. The heat is unbearable and we aren't getting I have watered it once and will probably do it again soon.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Mexican Firebush.... but I thought they had red flowers...? Looks like one though, doesn't it?

New Port Richey, FL(Zone 9b)

Looks like Hamelia patens to me as well...
I have Hamelia patens 'compacta' (the dwarf version).


Thumbnail by Dave67
Jetersville, VA

All three of you are correct. Mexican Firebush is the common name, Hamelia patens is the binomial, Latin name. It is rare to find such an exceptional plant that draws in hummingbirds as well as this one. Unfortunate as it may be, temperature range is the critical factor limiting the geographic availability to our hummers. That drawback can be circumvented by planting the dwarf variety in a pot and bringing it indoors during the cold months. In Southern Virginia, my hummers love Hamelia patens. If a comparison of plants were made based upon their nectar production, this would be near the top.

There are literally hundreds of plants that could be included as hummer favorites. I try to touch on the ones that are found over a wide % of the migration route and those that are minimally invasive. For those of you who would like more specific information or an up close & personal color view of hummingbird plants, You might want to Google the website for an Audubon endorsed book ( Another source of information is the Desert Botanical Garden ( and the world class Phoenix Arboretum .

We are now in the hottest and driest part of the year. In Southern Virginia (7b), temperatures touch the 100s and most temperate zone plants become stressed. Yards turn varying shades of brown and flowers wilt. On Thursday, I will introduce hummingbird plants that thrive during hot, dry conditions and are constantly blooming when most familiar flowers have finished their bloom cycle. Fall is an excellent time to plant to allow development of strong root systems.

Jetersville, VA

Ms Linda,
The drought that hit your area has been rough. I have seen trees dying from my home area in Southern Virginia through the Sonoran Desert area. Some oak species have been particularly hard hit. Now patches of upper elevation conifers are turning brown. Historically, drought cycles throughout the South-west have plagued humans and wildlife for thousands of years. When Yellow Paloverde and Creosote bushes go dormant early, it is really getting dry. Hope the monsoon season sweeps over to bring you folks relief from the oven.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Tricky HBJoe... the yellow flowers threw me off. My shrubs have fire engine red blossoms. Very easy to propagate, break a branch off and stick in the dirt. :)
This is the plant that brought hummers to my yard - took me 13 years to find it.
I'm from Massachusetts and hadn't heard of firebush shrub. A Floridian told me about it.

Jetersville, VA

Hi, Ms Ruth !
Usually you will find that the dwarf variety is the one with yellow - yellow-orange blooms. The dwarf may also have a different cold tolerance. Regardless, hummingbirds go nuts on both. I did not make that distinction in my last book.

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