Hamelia patens

Plant of the month: July

Also known as: Hummingbird bush

Native to: Southern U.S.A to Argentina

Blooms: Summer to autumn

Habitat: Open areas and thickets from sea level to 600 metres

Where found at BBG&G: Tropical House

 

A relative of coffee, this is an evergreen to semi-evergreen tropical shrub, grown throughout the tropics for their curious flowers. Hummingbird bush have orange-red tubular flowers, which attract hummingbirds and butterflies for pollination. Once pollinated, small dark red berries develop, turning black at maturity and attracting birds.

 

Although individual plants can look a bit straggly, this is a valuable garden shrub in warmer climates, especially when grown in groups or as a hedge. They can even be grown in cooler climates outside, as long as the soil remains above freezing.

 

Moreover, it can also be grown in a semi-shady position, but they won’t flower as well as they would in full sun. Propagation can be done during the spring in a warm glasshouse or propagator, either by seed or cuttings.