Plant Of The Week #4, Chilean Fire Tree
But the fire tree was not on his list, it was not a plant we had to memorize. Probably due to its rarity in the landscape generally although I see more and more around Seattle as its popularity grows. Back in the Arboretum I saw the fire-orange blooms covering the 30' tree from tip to toe and just had to investigate. Years later I would return to the same tree every spring just to see the blooms. Then years later still, Ginger and I returned again to collect seeds and now we have 5 of our own Chilean fire trees growing out on the back patio in clay pots. They're too young to bloom yet but one of my neighbors has one, so I get to enjoy his every night that we walk past when we "G-o on Lola's w-a-l-k."
Sometimes a large tree to 50', sometimes a multi-trunked shrub to 20'; leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen (ours seem to be evergreen) oblong, somewhat shiny, and sort of a dusty yellow-green. The showy bright orange to red flowers emerge in late May and last a month. Hummingbirds love them. This tree needs good drainage, is drought tolerant, likes acid soil and needs to be protected from freezing wind. USDA Zones 8-11. They seem to like to be left alone, so plant one and don't fuss with it. I'm not sure how old they need to be to bloom. Probably 5 years in the ground would be my guess.
Our "baby" Fire Trees