En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
3 ratings

Wednesday - May 05, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: Did Mexican fire bush (Hamelia patens) survive winter cold?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a Mexican fire bush that I planted last spring and it bloomed beautifully last summer. It browned and we cut it back to the ground. Right now it's showing no signs of life and I'm afraid it may have died during our rough winter. When should I see growth, is it dead?

ANSWER:

The USDA Plants Database shows Hamelia patens (scarletbush or firebush) as being native to the southern two-thirds of Florida.  The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map shows that portion of Florida in Zone 9 where the average minimum temperature is 20 to 25 for 9a and 25 to 30 for 9b and up to 40 degrees for the minimum in Zone 11.  Austin is in Zone 8 where the average annual temperature minimum is 15 to 20 degrees F.  Certainly we got within that minimum several times this past winter.  If your plant hasn't shown some green by now, I'm sorry to tell you but I'm afraid it's a goner.  You can test some of the branches that are left.  If they are still flexible and not brittle, there may still be some hope, but I wouldn't count on it. 

It is a beautiful plant but perhaps you should consider a plant that is native to this area if you decide to replace it.  Here are some suggestions:

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Wright's desert honeysuckle)

Erythrina herbacea (redcardinal)

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca)

Lobelia cardinalis (cardinalflower)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Erythrina herbacea

Hesperaloe parviflora

Lobelia cardinalis

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Reblooming Potted Iris
June 12, 2014 - I have a pot of iris bulbs that are giving me just a bunch of leaves this year. Last year I had wonderful big blooms. Any suggestions about what I could do to get some flowers?
view the full question and answer

Coconut in a husk from Round Rock TX
January 26, 2011 - Looking for a coconut in its complete husk ?
view the full question and answer

Bark splitting on non-native Royal Poinciana in tree in Merritt Island FL
August 10, 2010 - Information on splitting bark along the branches like an overstuffed sausage: A royal Poinciana tree, about 5 years old. The upper branches are doing this, although I'm afraid little splits or tear...
view the full question and answer

Removing non-native plants appearing in Austin in early spring
March 14, 2012 - In order to know which plants to keep and which to remove, is there a source to look up and identify common non-native plants that are seen in Austin about this time of the year (late winter, early Sp...
view the full question and answer

Non-native crape myrtle resistance to deer from Annapolis MD
April 06, 2013 - Is Crape Myrtle tree resistant to deers? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center