Lime Sizzler is a new plant sure to make a big impact
About 10 years ago while attending a meeting in Miami, I had the opportunity to tour around south Florida, sightseeing and enjoying the horticulture.
We visited the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead and discovered the joys and deliciousness of fresh tropical fruit, not the grocery store offerings most of us consider “fresh.” While in the park, I was enamored of a large, charming shrub.
I was told this was a native plant in the genus Hamelia, commonly called firebush. This shrub easily grew over 8 feet tall and wide, and it was covered with bright and beautiful, reddish-orange tubular flowers, each about an inch and half long.
I knew this would be a hit back in Mississippi. It would be winter hardy along the Coast and an annual in the northern part of the state. But its size would keep it out of many home landscapes.
Then a couple of years ago while visiting the LSU AgCenter in Hammond, I discovered a new-to-me Hamelia selection that I immediately knew was a winner. This selection is called Lime Sizzler, and it lives up to that name.
Lime Sizzler is a tough plant for our hot and humid summers. It was selected as a Louisiana Super Plant for 2019, and it will be super in our Mississippi landscapes and gardens. It is a vigorous but compact-growing plant, reaching about 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Lime sizzler is better suited for small gardens than its native south Florida cousin.
The foliage is a variegated mixture of chartreuse yellow and lime green highlighted by bright-red veins. The flowers are arranged in whorled clusters of gorgeous reddish-orange blooms. The plant produces these tubular flowers all summer and well into the fall.
For the best flower production and foliage color, plant Lime sizzler where it has full sun for at least six hours a day. This plant will be just fine in a shadier setting, but it will not develop the showy colors.
Though this plant tolerates pruning, the home gardener shouldn’t prune during the summer growing season, as this removes and reduces the current season’s flower development. Always prune in late winter before spring growth begins.
Lime Sizzler is an excellent choice for butterfly and hummingbird gardens, as the flowers provide an ample supply of sweet, nutritious nectar for our pollinators.
Lime sizzler is considered a tropical perennial and is hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11. It is likely to be evergreen most years along the Mississippi coast and is considered root hardy for most of the rest of the state.
Look for Lime Sizzler at your favorite garden center for next year’s summer garden.