Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hummingbird Bush (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii)

Is anyone immune to the magic of hummingbirds?

Next week I'm giving a presentation to our neighborhood gardeners group on attracting hummingbirds.  Few words, lots of pictures, useful plant list.

And it seems a shame not to share the plants with you, even if you don't live in the Texas Hill Country.  We're not all privileged to live in the center of the universe, but many plants are adaptable and you might find a few that like your yard.

I've written occasionally about hummingbird plants in past posts, including my favorite, Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), native to 27 states.   Starting today, I'll share some of the others.

Hummingbird Bush, AKA Flame Acanthus, is native only to south-central and west Texas down into northern Mexico.  But it's commercially propagated and reported hardy from zones 7a - 10b, with happy gardeners in states as diverse as California and Virginia.  Adaptable to a range of soils from sand to rocks and clay, if well-drained.

This cheerful 3'x3' bush (reported to 6 feet, but not in my thin-clay-over-limestone garden) sports red or orange tubular flowers June through October, attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.  Although the bushes are drought tolerant, my plants bloom more with a weekly watering.

Hummingbird Bush thrives in full sun but adapts to light shade.  Leaves fall at first frost.  In light winters it may remain evergreen, but a severe winter pruning will encourage summer bushiness.

Mine were slow to establish, maybe due to our thin soil, but reseed with abandon and deer take a pass on the plants. 

The hummingbirds and I dream of seeing Hummingbird Bush thick as a hedge.  The birds will nest in nearby junipers and lead their young ones to the red-flower table.

Copyright 2009-2010 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
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