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July 2008

QuestionI purchased and planted two (burning fire bushes) in spring of 2003. They get almost full sun except for about an hour in the morning and about two in the evening. They are about four and one half feet tall, and have never bloomed. I have seen the red orange little flower that appears on these bushes in another yard about half mile from my neighborhood bloom every summer. What do I need to do to get blooms? I live in NLR.


AnswerFirebush, Hamelia patens is a great summer blooming plant. It is marginally hardy in central Arkansas; in fact, I am surprised you have had one for five years planted in the ground. I consider them sub-tropical, and recommend moving them into protected storage for the winter except for the southern fringe of the state. It is a heat lover, native to southern Florida, and tends to kick into bloom once it gets hot--which is now! Find out if your neighbor leaves their plant in the ground all winter as well. Yours may be delayed in flowering until it re-grows the plant each season. Sunlight is not the issue, as they can bloom in partial shade. One other thought; make sure you planted Hamelia patens and not the shrubby burning bush Euonymus alatus. Common names sometimes can be misleading.

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