I was visiting a friends house the other day and she showed me the most interesting thing. She had two firebushes. One was well over 6 feet tall and six feet wide, just perfect. One was 2 feet high and looking measly. She told me that she had planted them both at the same time, and given them both the same care. I laughed and said, I ve had that happen to me on many plants. There are many reasons for this to happen, but the easiest way to deal with it is to dig up the stunted plant and move it. That s one of my gardening mantras – if it s not happy where I planted it, I just dig it up and move it. (Of course this is harder when you are talking about a tree or really large bush – but for medium size bushes, it s not that much work).

So let s take a few minutes to talk about the native firebush. Here in Central Florida the firebush not only attracts butterflies, but also hummingbirds and moths.

It is a large woody bush that here in Central Florida in good years could reach 8 -10 feet. Smaller if we had a hard freeze. I usually prune mine back in the Spring to 3 feet and it grows to 6 or 8 feet during the growing season.

It likes full sun, but can take a little shade. Remember – the more sun, the more flowers. The flowers are really beautiful, reddish/orange, long, tubular in a cluster formation at the end of the stems.

It s very drought tolerant once established. Remember that different plants take different amounts of time to become established. Water well in the beginning and then start to lessen the amount as you see the plant begin to grow and flower. I like to do my planting just before the summer rains start (this year has not been the usual rain pattern – I can t figure out what it is!) And then once I have stopped watering daily, or 3 x a week Mother Nature takes over for the season, and I can just set back and enjoy.

This plant can be started from seed (I don t think so), or by soft wood cuttings. But it s not an expensive plant, so I would buy a small one gallon for under $4.00 at the big box stores.

This plant comes in the native cultivar, and some hybridized forms to include a yellow form.

If you love butterflies, you will love this plant.

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(Photo: Happy Firebush)

(Photo: Firebush Flowers)

About PegEgg


  1. Cassie says:

    Hi, I was wondering, if mealy bugs are liking the stems, should we worry about them? We are using the plant for butterflies, so wondered if we should spray them off with water? Thanks.

  2. Dragonfly Lady says:

    Hi Cassie,

    Here is Peg’s answer to you question, please keep us posted of the results:-

    I really never have anything attack my firebush, so I would first look at the plant to see how healthy it is. A plant that is less healthy will attract pests and diseases. So my first step would be to make sure the plant is getting the right sun – full, water – well it rains daily and some fertilizer.

    As a Butterfly nectar plant the use of chemicals should be avoided. The water spray method should work, or the squish method, or a combo of both.

    If the plant is heavily infested I would cut off really badly infected stems and then use a mixture of 3 TBL of Ivory Dish Soap and 3 TBL of Veggie Oil in a one gallon milk jug and fill up with water to top. Then, in the evening, carefully spray the leaves and stems – not the flowers with this solution. Do not spray anything with oil during the day. It will fry.

    Try this and see how it works. Again, I find this plant pretty bullet proof, so I would go back to good cultural practices – sun/water/food. A healthy plant is a happy plant.

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