Wednesday in the garden: Justicia chrysostephana 'Orange Flame'

Justicia chrysostephana 'Orange Flame' 

In my zone 9a garden, it is a very rare winter when we get temperatures below 20 degrees F. Indeed, in recent years, it's been a rare winter when temperatures dip below freezing. In our most recent winter, we had two days in January that had temperatures below 32 degrees F. That was it.

Our relatively mild winters offer us the option of being able to grow some tropical plants. One of the ones that I grow is the medium-sized shrub 'Orange Flame'.

My plant has been in the ground for several years and is well-established. It does lose its leaves and dies back in the winter but comes back strong in the spring. It lives in a bed where it gets bright light but is in shade much of the day. It is protected by the thick leaves of an old magnolia tree that towers over it.

The blossoms are big and bright and showy and do, in fact, look a lot like flames. They really pop in a shady area. The leaves of the plant are attractive as well. They are a lush, dark green.

This is an extremely easy plant to grow in this area. It thrives in high humidity and rich, humusy soil, both of which I can provide. About the only care it needs is to be cut back in late winter to encourage it to produce a bushy plant with lots of those lush green leaves.  

It wouldn't work for my friends in colder climes, but for us zone 9 gardeners, 'Orange Flame' is a real winner.


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