Native to the tropical climates of Florida and Central/South America, firebush is an attractive, fast-growing shrub, appreciated not only for its masses of vibrant orange-red flowers, but for its attractive foliage. Firebush is generally easy to grow if you live in the warm climates of USDA plant hardiness zone 9 through 11, but even this hardy shrub is sometimes beset by problems, including firebush leaf drop. Let’s explore what may be to blame for a firebush losing leaves.
Why Leaves are Falling off Firebush
It’s typical for firebush to drop a few old leaves every year, but losing more than normal is an indication of some type of shock to the shrub. If you’re noticing firebush leaf drop, or if there are no leaves on a firebush, consider the following problems:
Shock – Sudden changes in temperature, either too cold or too hot, may be to blame for a firebush losing leaves. Similarly, dividing or moving the plant may also send it into shock and cause firebush leaf drop.
Drought – Like most shrubs, firebush may shed leaves to conserve water during periods of drought, although healthy, established shrubs usually tolerate drought stress better than newly planted trees. Water firebush shrubs deeply every seven to 10 days during hot, dry weather. A layer of mulch will help prevent moisture loss.
Overwatering – Firebush doesn’t do well in overly wet conditions or soggy soil because the roots are unable to absorb oxygen. As a result, leaves may turn yellow and drop off the plant. Water deeply to encourage long, healthy roots, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. If the soil doesn’t drain well, improve conditions by incorporating generous amounts of compost or mulch.
Pests – Firebush tends to be relatively pest free, but it may be bothered by various insects, including mites, scale and aphids. Many small, sucking insects can be controlled by insecticidal soap spray or neem oil.
Fertilizer problems – Lack of proper nutrients can cause foliage to turn yellow and eventually drop off the plant. Conversely, you may be killing your shrub with kindness if you’re applying too much fertilizer. Generally, a light application of fertilizer every spring is enough to support a healthy shrub.