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Hummingbird Bush

Flame Acanthus, Wright Anisacanth, Hummingbird Bush, Muicle

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (A. wrightii) Acanthaceae

From midsummer through frost, flame acanthus is covered with long, slender, red, yellow (Benny Simpson Yellow Hummingbird Bush named for Benny Simpson at: or orange blooms that hummingbirds and butterflies love. It is a drought tolerant, heat-loving, small, upright, twiggy shrub (3-4 feet tall) that works as well in the perennial border as it does as an informal hedge or specimen plant. The plants are very site adaptable; heat, drought, salt and high pH soil tolerant. It is excellent for naturalizing but needs good drainage. The bark is light and flaky and makes an interesting winter and early spring accent. Flame acanthus is late to come out in the spring, and benefits from periodic (30 to 50 days) shearing or even severe cutting back in early spring and late summer. Plants are at best open and airy, ratty when not at its best having been sheared every month. Prune severely in the spring to encourage dense growth and shear monthly to encourage dense growth and new growth on which flowers are produced.

It grows in the Edwards Plateau on rocky banks and floodplains, but is adaptable to sunny, well-drained exposures throughout the state, even Houston. It is a good choice for sites with poor soils and reflected heat - although supplemental water in dry summer months will encourage flowering. It is shoot hardy throughout zone 8, and root hardy (top will freeze but the plant will sprout from the root system the following spring) to zone 7.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
Exposure: sun
Flower Color: red, orange, yellow (Benny Simpson’s Yellow)
Blooming Period: summer through fall
Fruit Characteristics: small capsule
Height: 3 to 5 feet
Width: 3 to 4 feet
Plant Character: deciduous
Heat Tolerance: very high
Water Requirements: Drought tolerant once established
Soil Requirements: adaptable
USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Additional Comments:

Attributes mentioned on
Great for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies
Deer Resistant Perennial
Xeriscapic (Drought tolerant once established Texas native
Needs to be sheared every month to six weeks to encourage dense growth. Needs to be cut to ground every February.

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