Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Color - Hummingbird Bush

Native south and west of the DFW area all the way to northern Mexico, Hummingbird Bush has adapted well in my garden. Or rather my current plant has adapted well. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the first place I planted one didn't have perfect drainage.

One winter it was especially wet and cold. The next spring I was about to rip out my sad, dead looking hummingbird bush when I found a little tiny sprout coming up at the base of one part of the trunk. It re-established a shrub and I was left to wonder if the wet or the cold or the combination caused the almost complete demise of a healthy hummingbird bush. I had my answer after the next soggy spell that we had when my shrub "gave up the ghost".

What I learned from my first plant and my current one is that hummingbird bushes do not tolerate "wet feet". You can kill them, blackfoot daisies and some of the other wonderful drought tolerant plants recommended for North Central Texas by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center by letting their roots sit in wet soil for too long. (Note: the plant list on the link above has plants for a variety of circumstances, some more drought tolerant than others.) Here in my zone 8a, North Texas garden I did have some dieback on the tips of some of the branches of my current shrub this past, harsher than normal, winter. However now that the heat of summer has arrived it is fully leafed out and beginning to bloom.

If you are looking for something that will bloom for you during hot, dry weather, this small deciduous shrub may be just what you are looking for. It doesn't get started blooming until the heat of summer gets cranked up. It needs at least a half day of direct sunlight to bloom well. Don't put it somewhere that you water often or where it has poor drainage. My current shrub is planted about half way up the back of my waterfall's berm and does not receive supplemental watering now that it is established.

Several plants may have the common name "Hummingbird Bush", so you should also know this plant is known as "Flame Acanthus" or Anisacanthus quadrifidus.

In addition to being very drought tolerant, Hummingbird bush lives up to its name and attracts and provides nectar for hummingbirds. If this sounds like the plant for you, give it a try.

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