Firebush Winter Care Guide – Can You Grow A Firebush In Winter

(Image credit: cturtletrax)

Known for its bright red flowers and extreme heat tolerance, firebush is a very popular blooming perennial in the American South. As with many plants that thrive on heat though, the question of cold quickly arises. Keep reading to learn more about firebush cold tolerance and firebush winter care.

Is a Firebush Frost Hardy?

Firebush (Hamelia patens) is native to southern Florida, Central America, and the tropics of South America. In other words, it really likes the heat. Firebush cold tolerance is pretty much nil aboveground – when temperatures approach 40 degrees F. (4 C.), the leaves will start to turn color. Any closer to freezing, and the foliage will die. The plant can really only survive winter where temperatures remain well above freezing.

Can You Grow a Firebush in Winter in Temperate Zones?

So, should you give up on your dreams of growing a winter firebush if you don’t live in the tropics? Not necessarily. While the foliage dies off in cold temperatures, the roots of a firebush can survive in much chillier conditions, and since the plant grows vigorously, it should come back to full bush size the following summer.

You can count on this with relative reliability in regions as cold as USDA zone 8. Of course, firebush cold tolerance is fickle, and the roots making it through the winter is never a guarantee, but with some winter firebush protection, such as mulching, your chances are good.

Firebush Winter Care in Cold Climates

In zones even colder than USDA zone 8, you are not likely to be able to grow a firebush outdoors as a perennial. The plant grows so quickly, however, that it can serve well as an annual, flowering profusely in the summer before dying off with the autumn frost.

It’s also possible to grow a firebush in a container, moving it to a protected garage or basement for the winter, where it should survive until temperatures rise again in the spring.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.