Dwarf Mexican Firebush, Firecracker Shrub, Scarlet Bush, Hummingbird Bush 'Compacta'

Hamelia patens

Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Hamelia (ham-EE-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: patens (PAT-ens) (Info)
Cultivar: Compacta



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter




Provides winter interest

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

By simple layering

By air layering

By tip layering

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona

Bartow, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Bokeelia, Florida

Citra, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Malabar, Florida

Miami, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Palm Coast, Florida

Wauchula, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Gonzales, Louisiana

Youngsville, Louisiana

Jackson, Mississippi

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Saint George, South Carolina

Abilene, Texas

Amarillo, Texas

Austin, Texas (2 reports)

Conroe, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Georgetown, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

Humble, Texas

Kingsland, Texas

Missouri City, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Sugar Land, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 30, 2016, Vpm from Pasadena, TX wrote:

I have a spot in my Houston yard that gets sun most of the day. When it rains, it is water-filled (drainage area) but when it is dry, it is dry. Will a dwarf Mexican Firebush grow there? In the afternoon, it is shaded by a Virtex tree. I want something about the size of the dwarf firebush that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If not this plant, what do you suggest?


On May 22, 2012, Jcmeinster from Conroe, TX wrote:

It's a beautiful bush , it's a new addition to the butterfly garden , well branched and lots of tubular yellow and orange flowers .


On Jul 25, 2011, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant can still get quite big for being a compact Firebush. I have had this in my garden for three seasons now. Each winter it has totally frozen to the ground when temperatures dipped below freezing. Around April it comes back and by July it is a good five feet tall and requiring some trimming to keep it in control. The flowers attract hummingbirds constantly. It does very well in a sunny location and pretty drought tolerant once established. Sometimes it does get aphids on the tips but doesn't seem to bother the blooms at all. The ants take care of them for me.


On Sep 9, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

The term compacta does not refer to the overall size of the plant but rather the small size of the flowers and foliage. Mine is 4 ft tall and requires pruning to control size. Still a great plant and a great hummer attractant.


On Aug 3, 2005, KDTX from Fort Worth, TX wrote:

This is a very attractive version of the standard firebush and it grows well in Texas. It's the perfect size for a patio or a balcony which faces east, south or west. Hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to it and feed voraciously from it's long tubular blooms. Being an evergreen it adds much interest in winter too. The plant also has medicinal properties.


On Jul 1, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a pleasing dwarf version of the 8 ft Fire Bush in my yard. It won't overpower a butterfly garden like its big brother.

The golden tubular flowers are held up by bright red stems. They are about the same size as the larger version. It is almost everblooming. Butterflies and Hummingbirds find it attractive.

The dark blue seeds are devoured by Mockingbirds and Catbirds.

2008 Addition: As time has passed, my Hamelia patens 'compacta' has grown to about 7 ft. high, and is 6 ft. wide. I prune it, too. It has yellow tubes in the flowers. The leaves are smaller than the species and the flowers look different. It is everblooming. Humminbirds can't resist it.