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Arboretum Spotlight: Coral fountain flows with summer color

Coral fountain, a Mexican native, offers a lot of color without much water. Hummingbirds love it, too.
Coral fountain, a Mexican native, offers a lot of color without much water. Hummingbirds love it, too.

This is one part in a new weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.

Coral fountain

Russelia equisetiformis

Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide

Exposure: Full sun

Bloom season: Orange-red blooms in spring and summer

Pruning needs: In cold winters, stems die back; cut them to the base and they re-sprout.

Water needs: Medium to medium-low; once established, water once a week or twice a month.

Snapshot: A large perennial that behaves like an evergreen in mild winters, coral fountain has arching, bright green stems with tiny leaves that are smothered with bright orange-red flowers in late spring and summer. Also called firecracker plant, this versatile and showy Mexican native tolerates wind and reflected heat, making it ideal for hot spots in your landscape. Make sure you can see it; it’s a magnet for hummingbirds and attracts them into the garden. Coral fountain provides a mass of red summer color in sunny gardens. It also looks great in a large pot or used spilling over a wall.

▪ For more on 40 Plants, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites, Durable Delights and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home-garden.

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