It’s that time of year when hummingbirds start their migration through Texas. I’ve had a black chinned hummingbird visiting my feeder multiple times a day. While feeders are great, native nectar plants are even better.
Adding Hummingbird Bush (also called Flame Acanthus) is the perfect hummingbird magnet, especially for year-round residents and the fall migration.
Where is Hummingbird Bush (Flame Acanthus) Native To?
This plant is a true Texan! This particular variety (Aniscanthus quadrificlus var. wrightii) is found in West and South Central Texas. However it is particularly associated with the Hill Country and the Edwards Plateau region around San Antonio where I live.
Flame Acanthus Attracts Hummingbirds
This plant is known for its profuse blooms of orange-red flowers. The flowers are trumpet shaped and upright, making them the perfect drinking vessel for hummingbirds and butterflies.
If you want a Hummingbird Bush covered in flowers from summer through fall, place it in full sun. It can grow ok in part sun, but will produce fewer blooms.
Unlike bees which can’t see the color red, hummingbirds are drawn to the bright red flowers.
5 Reasons to Grow Hummingbird Bush (Flame Acanthus)
1. It is profuse bloomer
It can be hard to find plants with long bloom periods, especially in the heat of the Texas summer. However, Flame Acanthus produces abundant blooms from mid summer until frost. Be sure to grow it in full sun where it will thrive.
2. It is heat and drought tolerant
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant this is the one for you. Hummingbird Bush loves the heat and requires very little watering once established.
It is even cold tolerant. In terms of hardiness zones, it will stay root hardy through Zone 7. Here in San Antonio, the plant even survived the mega freeze of February 2021!
It is a deciduous plant (it will lose its leaves during the winter). However if you cut back the dead branches by 2/3 in the spring it will regrow from its roots. This will help produce a denser, fuller shrub.
3. It is not picky about its location
As long as Hummingbird Bush has well drained soil, it is not picky about the type of soil. It is also not super picky about sun conditions. It prefers full sun, but can grow in dappled to part sun as well. However, I would not recommend it for full shade areas.
4. It is a butterfly host plant
In addition to feeding butterflies with its nectar, it also feeds butterfly’s caterpillars as a host plant. Anytime I can add a butterfly or moth host plant to my garden it is a win. Read more about why having host plants in our yard is so important for the ecosystem.
Flame Acanthus is the host plant for two butterflies:
5. It is easy to grow in containers
I love incorporating native plants into my container pots on my patio along with annuals. Flame Acanthus grows to about 3-4″ tall and wide, making it a good candidate for a large pot.
Make a Hummingbird Garden
Hummingbirds migrate through Texas every spring and fall, and some stay year-round. Hummingbird bush will be in full bloom for their fall migration.
Pair this plant with other Texas natives such as Turk’s Cap and Autumn Sage to create a garden that attracts hummingbirds. These perennial shrubs also have red tubular shaped flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies can’t resist.
If you include these plants and add a hummingbird feeder (this is the one I use), you’ll have a hummer paradise in your yard!
Names for Hummingbird Bush
Aniscanthus quadrificlus var. wrightii is the scientifc (Latin) name for the Hummingbird Bush I am referring to. That is certainly a mouthful, and I’m not sure I can even pronounce it correctly! However, that is the name you’ll want to look for on the plant label at the nursery to ensure you’re getting the native plant.
It is especially important because there are several other non-native plants with the common name Hummingbird Bush such as these. Here are their scientific names:
- Dicliptera suberecta
- Hamelia patens
- Grevillea thelemanniana
Each plant variety has only one scientific name but can have several common names. In addition to Hummingbird Bush, one of the most common names for Aniscanthus quadrificlus var. wrightii is Flame Acanthus.
I like to use Hummingbird Bush because I think it will encourage more people to plant it! Who doesn’t like hummingbirds?!
How Do You Prune Hummingbird Bush?
Maintaining hummingbird bush is easy. Just cut back by about 2/3 in February. You are removing the dead branches to encourage new growth from the base and create a more fuller, rounder plant. Leaving the dead foliage on the plant through winter helps provide habitat for insects and birds.
Water 2x a week until established, then minimal watering. Likes well drained soil.
Cut back by 2/3 in February. Plant will regrow from the ground.
Plant can be propagated by seeds or soft wood cuttings in the spring. Apply a rooting hormone to the cutting will help with propagation.
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Hi, I’m Haeley! Welcome to Native Backyards.
I’m Haeley Giambalvo, the founder of Native Backyards and the author of this post! I really appreciate you stopping by, and I hope you found the information you needed. Feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions via email or on Instagram @NativeBackyards.
Together, we can help the Earth from our own yards by growing more native plants that support pollinators, birds and wildlife!