If I could only have two shrubs in my landscape, one would be firebush, also known as Scarlet bush, and the other would be beautyberry.
Florida native firebush, Hamelia patens, produces orange-red tubular flowers most of the year. A beautiful landscape addition, it attracts birds, butterflies and hummingbirds. What more can you ask?
This shrub prefers full sun to partial shade. It flowers the most in full sun, although some consider the yellow/orange foliage to be less attractive than the green foliage it produces in the shade.
Mine generally die back to the ground in the winter, but the roots sprout quickly when the weather warms.
Firebush grows quickly and can reach 5 to 20 feet high and 5 to 8 feet spread. It performs well as a border plant, an accent, for screening an area or in a mass planting if there is sufficient space.
Prune as you see fit. This shrub prefers well- to medium-well drained soil, has medium drought tolerance, and low to no salt tolerance. It is easy to propagate using cuttings or fresh seeds. The black, fleshy fruits/seeds attract birds. Seeds are suitable for bird and human consumption, although I have not eaten any … yet.
For more information, check out edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp237.
Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, prefers part sun/part shade and does well in full shade. I have some in nearly full sun and they perform well.
This native plant can reach a height and spread of 6 to 7 feet, so allow sufficient space when using as a border plant, in a mass planting, naturalized or in large containers. It prefers well-drained soil, has high drought tolerance and low to no salt tolerance.
Beautyberry is deciduous and produces purple/light purple flowers from spring through fall, providing small fruits for wildlife.
A beautyberry variety, Callicarpus americana var. lactea, produces white flowers and fruits that are attractive in the landscape. Propagation is from seeds or cuttings.
For more information, check out edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp090.
If site conditions are right, consider firebush and beautyberry as two Florida native must-haves. They are strikingly beautiful and easy to maintain.