June 30, 2007
Plant of the Week
Firebush is a natural selection to substitute for flowering annuals. It blooms more profusely and more continuously than most other perennials. Firebush is actually a native Mexican shrub or small tree but never reaches its potential height of 13 feet because the plant is frozen to the ground annually in most parts of Texas. Even though Firebush is a root-hardy perennial (meaning it will re-sprout from the roots every year) in many parts of Texas, initiation of these new sprouts requires the warm soil temperatures of summer. Most gardeners will not tolerate the barren, early spring appearance of the slow-sprouting, root-hardy Firebush. Therefore, to prolong the blooming period of Firebush, fresh transplants should be planted twelve inches apart every spring into the sunny ornamental flower bed or container. Because Firebush is native to such a harsh climate, soil preparation is not as critical as it is with the more commonly grown annuals. Fertilization should be sparingly applied every three weeks to keep plants actively growing. Over-fertilization should be avoided to prevent excessive growth and to ensure that fall color will be enhanced. However, the planting bed must drain well since Firebush is accustomed to drought conditions and, most importantly, the planting MUST be in a full sun location since Firebush will not bloom if grown in a shady or semi-shaded area — plants will live and grow but blooms will be sparse.
For more in-depth information on this great low maintenance and colorful landscape addition, please visit these links at:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/cemap/firebush/firebush.html and http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/may04/5.htm.
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu, click under Horticulture and Gardening.