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Zones 8-13, 18-23, H1, H2
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Moderate, Minimal

Anisacanthus

Acanthaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Shrubs

Heat loving shrubs have nectar-filled tubular flowers with two lobes above the mouth, three on the lower lip. Highly favored by hummingbirds and butterflies. Fairly drought tolerant; water deeply every 2 to 3 weeks in summer.

Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii, photo courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery
Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii, photo courtesy of Plant Delights Nursery

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Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii

Native to southeastern Texas, northeastern Mexico. Grows to 3 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide, with dark green leaves 2 in. long and 1 in. wide. Spikes of 2-in.-long, brilliant red-orange flowers appear from early summer to autumn. Rabbits love the new shoots; protect with wire cage until a woody structure is established. For compact shape and prolific bloom, cut back by one-half to two-thirds before new spring growth commences. ‘Mexican Flame’ is a superior selection grown from cuttings. Full sun or light shade.

Anisacanthus thurberi
Anisacanthus thurberi

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Anisacanthus thurberi

Native to Northern Mexico and the canyons and washes of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and New Mexico. In mild-winter areas, grows to 4 ft. tall or more and as wide, with stout branches. Looks best when treated as perennial, cut to ground before spring growth begins. Valued for spikes of 1 1/2 in. long, red flowers held above leaves that are 1 1/2 –2 in. long and 1/2 in. wide. Blooms most prolifi­cally in spring, with occasional blossoms in summer and fall.

Plants sold under this name may be Justicia spicigera.

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