Firebush – Streptosolen jamesonii

Abundant flowers cover this climber in summer to create a strong splash of bright colour. Buds and new flowers are a deep yellow which gradually turn a brilliant orange. The mix of tones in a flower cluster has led to Firebush’s other name Marmalade Bush.

Firebush originates from Colombia and Ecuador in South America and is an evergreen, semi- ; scrambling shrub.

Stems of this plant can grow to 2m (just over 6ft) but the plant can be trained and kept smaller than this by cutting back in early spring. Leaves are a long, oval shape, 3cm (11/4in) in length, dark green and with a finely wrinkled surface. The flowers are 3-4cm (1 ¼— 1 ½in) long. They are made up of a twisted tube which opens out into a wide 5-petalled flower. These bright flowers appear throughout the summer, in large clusters at the end of the stems.

DisplayFirebush - Streptosolen jamesonii

In a conservatory or sun-room, Firebush looks especially effective grown in a large container and trained against a wall to provide background colour through summer. Use trellis or parallel wires to train the plant in the direction and shape you want it to grow.

This plant could also be grown in a free-standing pot with support or in a basket hanging in a sunny window.

Through The Year

February—March

Cut back old stems by up to one third, shaping the plant as you do it.

April—May

Start to water moderately. Begin to feed mature plants. Repot if necessary. Cuttings of young shoots can be taken in May. Dip the ends in hormone rooting powder and place in a pot of equal parts peat and coarse sand.

Cover with a polythene bag and keep in a warm spot out of bright sunlight until the cuttings have rooted.

June—September Firebush should flower through this period. Continue to water moderately, and feed once every 3 weeks.

October—February

When flowering finishes stop feeding and water more sparingly through winter.

Pests And Diseases

Only very few flowers appearing indicates that the plant is not getting enough light or nutrition. Treatment: This plant will not flower abundantly unless in a very bright, sunny and protected spot. Feed regularly.

Yellowing leaves and fine webbing are a sign of red spider mites.

Treatment: This pest loves warm and dry air. Keep humidity high by misting plants frequently. Spray with a suitable insecticide as soon as pests appear.

Sticky leaves and tiny brown spots on stems and leaf undersides are scale insects.

Treatment: Use a cotton wool bud dipped in dilute methylated spirits to wipe them off.

PLANT CARE

This plant must be provided with warmth and bright light. To keep plants bushy cut back old stems by one third in late spring.

  • Potting: Firebush likes a sandy compost, so use two parts soil-based compost to one part coarse sand. Repot in spring in a pot the next size up when roots fill the present pot. In large pots replace the top 3-4cm (1-1½in) of compost.
  • Water moderately throughout the year. Allow the top 2-3cm (1in) to dry out before rewatering.
  • Feeding: Use a standard liquid fertilizer every 3 weeks during the growing season in spring and summer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: This plant needs as much light and sun as you can give it during summer. In winter it will be happy with less of both.
  • Temperature: Normal summer temperatures are fine. In winter don’t let the temperature fall below 13°C (55°F).

Buying Tips

  • Buy in spring. You may need to go to a nursery specializing in exotic plants to find Firebush.
  • Choose a bushy plant that will make a nice shape against a wall or in a basket, depending on where you want to grow it. Leaves should be a deep green with wrinkled surfaces.
  • Given the right conditions, this plant will live for many years.

Bright orange flowers appear in clusters on this climbing plant. It is an ideal plant for a conservatory or sun room wall and will also trail attractively from a hanging basket.

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