This attractive, upright deciduous shrub grows 2'-5' tall, with many branched stems bearing opposite, lance-shaped to ovate, green leaves that are softly hairy beneath. The bright, orange-red to red-violet flowers, up to 1 1/4" across, are freely produced in summer and fall. Flowers of Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. Wrightii are tubular, with 4 narrow, curving petals, borne in tight clusters at the ends of the branches. They are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. During the winter, the bush becomes dormant and loses its leaves.
Flame acanthus prefers full sun, with fertile soil that is moderately moist. It may need protection in colder climates and in USDA Zones 9-11, some protection may be necessary to keep the mature plant cold-hardy to at least the upper 20s F for a short time. Grow it in pots and then in winter take the pots inside during freezing temperatures.
Pruning should be done in the early spring, before growth begins and can be done in two stages: A light pruning to thin for light and air penetration and to remove any dead or damaged branches, and then a second pruning can be done to shape the plant. Cuts should be above a leaf node, and don't prune more than one-third of the plant at a time. If you want to keep the plant smaller, prune off the tips of the top and sides of the bush. This will encourage branching and more compact growth.
To discourage disease and pests, it's important to keep the hummingbird bush pruned and tidy and to mulch around the base to keep the temperature steady and consistent. A monthly light application of a balanced fertilizer is also recommended, but not essential. Flame acanthus is a great choice for entryways, small gardens, or containers, providing a long-lasting source of beautiful color and natural beauty.