August Blooms

It’s hot August and hot-hued blooms are more than a match for the heat wave that defines recent days in Austin, Texas, USDA zone 8b. The flowers are fine as the day heats up, but the gardener becomes sweaty and grumpy.  Early morning is the best time to appreciate the heat-loving blooming bonanza.  

In my shady garden, I grow only two Pride of BarbadosCaesalpinia pulcherrima; both receive late morning to late afternoon direct sunshine.  I adore the full-of-pulchritude flowers, but each of my individual plants are, truth be told, thinner and less lush than those around town which grow in all-day sun.  

I’m not complaining, especially when an early migrating Monarch stops by for a sip of the sweet stuff that the flowers offer in abundance.  In fact, these blooms are pollinator magnets and there’s always something flitting about and alighting on the bright blooms.


Turk’s capMalvaviscus arboreus, is a signature plant in my gardens, as they bloom well in shade–which my garden has plenty of–as well as in full-to-part sun.  These native Texas shrubs bloom multitudes of petite fire-engine red hibiscus flowers from May until October.  Bees and hummingbirds are frequent visitors, and birds will enjoy the fruits that follow, later in autumn.  


More hot red blooms this hot August are found on the Firecracker plantRusselia equisetiformis.

A plant which thrives in both dappled shade and part sun, its tubular blooms attract native metallic bees and hummingbirds.   It’s a tough plant:  it requires little water, has no disease or insect problems, and is lovely in both flower and foliage.

I also grow a cousin to the R. equisetiformis, the Russelia coccinea.  My one little plant  has been in the ground for quite a few years and doesn’t bloom often.  

But, it’s blooming now–and how–and has done so for much of this summer.

I like how the arching branch full of red blooms visually bisects the purple Oxalis Triangularis.

Blooms are numerous along arching branches, bright red, but more fluted than the cigar-shaped R. equisetiformis blooms. The leaves are small, opposite and scalloped, rather than the fern-like foliage of the R. equisetiformis

The R. equisetiformis is native to Mexico and southward.  I’ve had both plants in my gardens for many years, but the R. equisetiformis is the more prolific of the two and seemingly better adapted, as mine grows in both shade and in some sun, whereas the R. coccinea seems happier in a spot protected by the Texas summer sun.


Mexican HoneysuckleJusticia spicigera, is back in blooming business after its June and July vacation.

The pollinators are cheering!  Well, they don’t exactly cheer, but there are few bloom clusters which don’t have attendant bees, busily working the blooms–all day, everyday.   It’s a popular place to eat!

A honeybee works the bloom,

…as does a Southern Carpenter bee,

…and a Horsefly-like Carpenter bee.


Another two plants which thrive in summer’s heat are the Flame Acanthus, Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii, and Firebush, Hamelia patens. 

Like the other hot plants in this post, both of these shrubs produce blooms that pollinators love.  Shortly before I caught this shot of the Flame Acanthus flower, it was feeding a female Black-chinned hummingbird.  The hummer buzzed away with an annoyed chirp directed at me, but the flower remained, posed for a photo.

A native metallic bee was more cooperative with the photography session as it ignored me and worked a bloom cluster of  the Firebush.

It’s hot.  It’s August.  There are still a few more weeks of oven-like temperatures–can you tell that I’m weary of the heat?  That said, my garden and its heat worshiping blooms are doing just fine.

Autumn is just around the corner.  I can’t wait.

For more awesome August blooms, check out May Dreams Gardens and its celebration of blooms galore.

25 thoughts on “August Blooms

      • It really all depends on the bird. I think some are used to feeders. I have had winter hummers that wouldn’t use the feeder, even with few flowers. I have extra feeders ready to go for the migration when the hummer will eat everything.

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  1. All the plant are lovely you and you are fortunate to have so many things blooming. I adore the metallic bees. I think they are so pretty. I’ve never grown Pride of Barbados but want to give it a whirl next year. I have two of the plants that you mention here. Flame Acanthus and Turks cap both of which have achieved great heights. Turks cap is the giant one and mine must be 7 feet or more and just keeps spreading. Flame seemingly know no bounds since one little plant 4 years ago has grown to 6 feet wide and about 5 feet tall with very dense and lush foliage. Those two plants are just about the hardest of anything that I have grown.


    • I love the metallic bees, so beautiful and fortunately, I see them on many of my blooms. Yes, both the Flame and the Turk’s spread out! But they’re wonderful additions to any southwest garden.

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  2. Your Pride of Barbados looks remarkably like the Poinciana trees that grew around my place in Liberia, but I see they’re different genera. Apparently others have seen the similarity, too, since one of the other common names for Pride of Barbados is Poinciana. The trees can get to 40 or 50 feet, though — what glorious sights!

    I know the Turk’s cap, of course. I don’t remember seeing Russelia coccinea before. I like it better than the firecracker plant — at least, I do from the photos.

    You’re sure right about the heat. The water bowls are getting as much traffic as the feeders these days!


    • I probably agree with you on the R. coccinea. I was surprised that I couldn’t find much info about that plant. I have two little strands of it, both have been in my garden for many years, they don’t do much except that they’re *there* and sometimes bloom. One of the strands is in my back garden underneath a bunch of other plants. I’m going to transplant it in the fall to a place that’s front and center with a bit more sun and see how it does.

      I’m also keeping the water sources clean and full–it’s tough out there!


  3. I’ve long-admired Caesalpinia but have yet to try adding it to my own garden, partly because the plants I see in my local garden center generally come only in huge, expensive sizes. The truth be told, as our own summers grow ever hotter (we’re flirting with 100F right now even here along the coast), I should invest in other of the plants you’ve shared here. I tried the Justicia once and killed it somehow (inattention perhaps). Hamelia would be a great addition. Happy GBBD and may you soon enjoy a cool-down!


    • It’s a tough one. My only regret is that I have no real “full” sun place for a specimen. My two get sun, but not enough to really show off the pow-wow of these beauties. You might try on, they’d laugh at your 100 degree temps. 🙂


  4. Caesalpinia pulcherrima is related to a few species that are known as bird of Paradise (although we do not use that name here, since it refers to Strelitzia reginae). Caesalpinia californica is from Baja California, but is not as pretty in bloom. I like it because it is popular in the Mojave Desert.


  5. Turk’s cap is one of our natives that seems to thrive in the summer heat. The little fruits are edible, and when ripe are slightly sweet. Still, nobody’s likely to eat a bunch of them.

    I wasn’t familiar with Russelia equisetiformis, which I see comes from Mexico and Guatemala.

    You’re right about the effectiveness of the arching branch full of red blooms visually bisecting the purple Oxalis.


  6. Gorgeous firey red blooms. I have grown Pride of Barbados from seed, it germinates easily but I have never got it to bloom in my greenhouse. And I have always wanted a Firecracker plant. I don’t suppose it would bloom here either. I shall just have to admire yours.


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