Firebush Pruning Guide – Learn How To Prune A Firebush

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Firebush is a magnet for butterflies and bees. This Central and South American native develops into a 6 to 8 foot (1.8 to 2.4 m.) tall shrub with a similar spread. The plant has a naturally upright form but keeping it trimmed can help keep it compact and force more blooms.

Cutting back a firebush needs to be done at the right time in order to preserve the next year’s flowers. Learn when to trim a firebush so you can keep it tidy and still enjoy a lushly blooming plant.

When to Trim a Firebush

Firebush blooms throughout the year in its natural habitat. The brightly colored, tubular flowers come in orange, red and yellow, a veritable sunset of colors. The fruit that forms has a slightly acidic taste and is actually made into a fruit drink in Mexico. Regular pruning can prevent the formation of the fruits, but lightly trimming firebush plants is necessary to keep them in check, as in the case of a hedge.

The best time for firebush pruning is late winter to early spring. This is when the plant is not actively growing and such activity will cause less damage. Pruning at this time will prevent removal of flower buds as well.

You can prune the plant in summer with no ill effects, but many of the blooms will be lost and fruit will be prevented from forming. Firebush is a semi-woody perennial and will require nice sharp tools to help prevent injury to the plant.

How to Prune a Firebush

Heading back or trimming firebush plants helps the plant form a compact rather than splayed appearance. To do this, you will be hand trimming rather than using a hedging saw. At each branch, cut back to the previous growth node. This will cause the cut area to send out more stems and form a bushier appearance.

In order to rejuvenate a neglected firebush, up to one third of the plant may have to be removed. Select the largest, thickest branches for that initial removal. The next season, remove the next largest and repeat the third season. Thereafter, only light trimming annually should be necessary.

Tips on Cutting Back a Firebush

In some regions, such as northern Florida, the plant will die back in winter. As the leaves drop and the stems go dormant, the plant is in a perfect state to be trimmed, but you should wait until just before leaves bud out to prevent any frost injury.

It is suggested to prune the plant to a height of no less than 5 feet (1.5 m.) to preserve the flowers. Always use keen edged tools that have been wiped with alcohol or a bleach solution. This prevents injury to the woody tissues and the introduction of disease.

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How do you prune a firebush?

To grow firebush in your garden, plant it in late spring or early summer. Make sure the soil drains well, because this plant will not tolerate soggy roots. Water your Hamelia regularly until it has become established. Prune it as needed to keep it to a reasonable size but avoid over-pruning.

Secondly, when should bushes be cut back? The best time to prune most bushes and shrubs is in late winter or early spring—usually during the later half of March or the beginning of April—before new growths have formed after the dormant period. Avoid cutting off new shoots, buds, and blooms.

Thereof, can I prune burning bush in summer?

To maintain the right shape, you should prune the burning bush again in the middle of summer. Burning bushes are usually grown for their autumn foliage, so you don't need to worry about accidentally removing flower buds when you do a summer pruning.

How big does a firebush get?

As a tropical flowering shrub, firebush can grow 10 feet tall and wide at maturity in the North as an annual or container garden plant, you can typically expect it to grow about 4 feet tall and wide by the end of the season.

How do you trim a firecracker plant?

Firecracker plants require lots of light to bloom. Move it outdoors for the summer and set it in the sunniest spot you can provide. Water: Water thoroughly, allowing the top of the soil to dry out between waterings. Mature plants are drought-tolerant, so it's a good idea to keep them on the dry side.

Secondly, how do you prune Crossandra? Crossandra can be pruned in spring - late February or early March in your area. I usually prune mine throughout the growing season by gently pinching them back, but Crossandra will take hard pruning and rebound almost immediately.

Thereof, how do you start a firecracker plant?

Tip Cuttings

  1. Prepare a potting mixture using equal parts sand, perlite and peat.
  2. Identify a healthy branch with a growing tip that has at least two leaves near the tip of the branch.
  3. Make thin incisions on the bottom 3 inches of the cutting using a sharp knife.

Are firecracker plants poisonous?

There is a plant called firecracker plant, Russelia equisetiformis. Another common name for it is coral plant. It is a cascading, loose-growing plant, and is not native to North America but to the tropical Americas and Mexico. All parts of this plant ARE poisonous.



Firebush is a great shrubby perennial for us. It grows 3-4′ tall and can get to 5′ wide, so give it some space.

It thrives in our heat and blooms in late summer and fall with clusters of gorgeous orange-red tubular blooms, so it’s great for attracting hummingbirds. It’s also very low water use and tolerant of virtually all soil types, from clay to sand to somewhat rocky. It also accepts a wide range of soil pH.

It likes sun but will accept shade during the day, as along as it gets a good blast of sun.

This trouble free shrub does not have insect or fungus problems, and thrives without fertilizer.

Firebush does go dormant in winter. Cut it to the ground and watch it flush back out even bigger next spring! In its dormant period, sow wildflower seeds or plant naturalizing bulbs to fill the space.

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March To Do List

Plant: ornamental & wildlife

  • Annuals: It’s a tricky month for annuals since we get hot days. But the soil is still cold and freezes could still arrive. Late: plant cosmos, sunflowers, morning glory, gomphrena but keep an eye on upcoming freezes. Avoid planting caladiums.
  • Wildflower transplants: early in month, you can still plant bluebonnet, larkspur, poppy and other transplants.
  • Perennials & vines
  • Ornamental (clumping) grasses like muhly and Mexican feather grass (late month)
  • Trees, shrubs, roses (as soon as possible before heat sets in)

Plant: herbs

  • Nasturtiums, chives, catnip, comfrey, fennel, horseradish, feverfew, oregano, thyme, rosemary, Mexican mint marigold, peppermint, lemongrass (after last freeze)

Plant: food crops

  • Chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, endive, Malabar spinach, mustard, peppers, pumpkin, summer & winter squash, tomatillos (you need at least two!), tomatoes, beans, cantaloupe
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Vegetable Planting Guides (Central Texas)

  • Roses (early)
  • Evergreen shrubs
  • Prune dormant perennials and ornamental (clumping) grasses.
  • Trees: DO NOT prune red oaks and live oaks unless damaged. Spray immediately with clear varnish.
  • No need to apply pruning paint to other trees
  • Avoid topping crape myrtles: simply remove sprouts or entire limbs at the trunk.

  • Dormant perennials, roses, shrubs and trees. Still time, but don’t wait!

  • Citrus with high nitrogen fertilizer like Citrus-tone. Fertilize every few weeks through growing season.
  • Add compost to beds as you cut back dormant perennials. Fertilize with slow-release granular late in the month or as dormant perennials leaf out
  • Add compost around trees and fertilize. Be sure to dig out grass several feet from the trunk, ideally to the drip line of the tree canopy.
  • Watch for powdery mildew. Apply a natural fungicide like Serenade.

  • Mow weeds before they set seed. Do not fertilize at this time except with compost!
  • Plant native Habiturf seeds after soil prep
  • Plant other turf late in month once freezes aren’t coming

  • Add compost to vegetable gardens along with organic fertilizer in prep for more summer crops
  • Soil test

Other tasks

  • Keep floating row cover available avoid covering plants with plastic
  • Mulch, but avoid touching the base of trees and roses
  • Till in winter cover crops
  • WEED!

  • When planting, dig hole twice as wide as root ball but no deeper than where it sits in the pot.
  • Backfill and water until it sinks in.
  • Continue filling in.
  • Water again until it sinks in and pack the soil down.
  • Mulch.

Watch the video: Winter Pruning: Fire Bush

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