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The Plant Guide

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Mexican fire bush

Hamelia patens

ha-MEL-ee-ah PAT-enz

A tropical tree by design, the Mexican fire bush freezes to the ground in winter in Zones 8-11, but grows up to 5 feet tall by summer's end. The erect, branched, woody stems bear simple copper-toned leaves with small orange flowers bunched along the tips. It loves the heat, and the more you can give it, the more vigorous it will be.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsCoppery orange flowers from summer into fall. Good for hedges, borders, and accents where hardy. As an annual, it can be grown in borders and containers. Good plant for butterfly and bird habitat gardens.

CareEasily grown in average, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade (best flowering occurs in full sun). Needs good drainage and does best in high heat. If growing as an annual, plant in a container to winter indoors if desired. Although somewhat drought-tolerant once established as a perennial in southern areas, it prefers regular moisture when grown as an annual.

PropagationPropagate by softwood cuttings in spring or by seed.

ProblemsNothing serious.

  • Genus : Hamelia
  • Zones : 10, 11, 8, 9
  • Plant Height : 3 to 6 feet
  • Characteristics : Attracts Hummingbirds, Showy Foliage
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Bloom Time : Fall, Summer
  • Light : Full Sun
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Flower Color : Red
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
View Comments


  1. user-7007298 11/08/2014

    I am in zone 7 don't know how to winter this plant

    1. user-7007967 03/04/2016

      I live in zone 7b (NM); I have it planted in the front yard which gets full sun, as well as some high breezes during spring/summer...as long as you remember to water it, the bush will have no problems

  2. galani 03/06/2017

    Looks like a nice plant. I think this would mix well with some of the taller Salvias. I like the warm copper coloring. Perfect for fall.

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