Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

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:

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants resistant to white-tailed deer from Austin
April 01, 2013 - Could you tell me whether American Beautyberry and Blackfoot Daisy are usually eaten by our Austin white-tailed deer, or not? I get different answers in different publications. It would be great to ...
view the full question and answer

Failure of fragrance in Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) in Illinois
April 30, 2006 - I have a sweet shrub bush that I took from the root of another one. Every year it blooms but never has even a smidgen of fragrance. The bush it came from was very fragrant. Should I do something to th...
view the full question and answer

Native perennials for Donley County, TX
July 16, 2009 - What are the best perennials to plant in Donley County, TX?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Eves necklacepods (Styphnolobium affine)
March 25, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I urgently need your advice regarding two Eve's necklacepods that appear to be dying. They are in two completely different areas of my yard. One began leafing out and then the leaves sh...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for northwest-facing wall
June 09, 2012 - Can you suggest a tall (8-10') evergreen shrub for a site against a northwest-facing wall which gets no sun in the winter but full sun in the summer? Texas sage got too leggy and viburnum will be to...
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.