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: Tropical House
A relative of the coffee plant, 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.
It can also be grown in a semi-shady position, but they won’t flower as abundantly as they would in full sun. Propagation can be done during the spring in a warm glasshouse or propagator, either by seed or cuttings.