Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'

January 2012
Metrosideros collina 'Springfire' photo peg4613.jpg
What I wanted was a petite tree (or medium shrub) of dense, tidy, evergreen habit to provide screening for a couple of areas in the garden.  That the flowers also lure hummingbirds is a bonus.  'Springfire' is less common here than Metrosideros excelsa or the variegated form of Metrosideros excelsa.  The mature size is also much smaller, which is what I wanted.  Getting the right size plant for a location is as wise as choosing the right microclimate.    
By May of 2012, it was settling in and already blooming and growing:
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The same plant, February 2013:
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As it looks now, September 2014.  I need to move that Yucca queretaroensis.  The Yucca was described as "very slow", but here, not "very slow" enough to live so close to 'Springfire'.  I recently moved a second nearby (too nearby) Y.  queretaroensis and am waiting to see if it will survive.  Is it possible to kill a Yucca?  I'll let you know. 
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A few weeks after getting the first 'Springfire' in 2012, I got a second, a poor copy for 75% off.  It has struggled.  Not only was it a weaker specimen, it has gotten less water and suffered from an ant nest being near the root system.  The results, I think, illustrate the value of starting with a healthy, fresh plant that hasn't been sitting on hot asphalt at the garden center for months and months.
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September 2014:  It's growing, slowly, but nowhere near as well as the first plant.
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Replacing an aged Dodonea, a third 'Springfire', one Gallon size, (fresh stock) planted February 2014.  See the difference again between a fresh plant and one that lived too long in a small container:
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The same plant, September 2014:
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January 2015:
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Update:  February 2016:

If I had only bought the second, weak plant, I might believe 'Springfire' is always slow to establish.  These three different specimens illustrate what planting several copies of the same plant may reveal.

Down the road from us a couple of miles, here is the mature specimen that convinced me to try 'Springfire' in the first place.  It is sited to the north of several shade-casting palms, but looks good despite being shaded.  It's been limbed up.  This shows its potential as an excellent evergreen patio tree.   
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A good plant is not commonly a fast plant, but is worth the wait. 

Comments

  1. That mature specimen down the road from you is absolutely stunning. I can see why you decided to plant it in your own garden. Another one to go on my wish list for when we move to a larger property (or rather "if"). It's good to start planning early!

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    1. Planning is good. A large property with a clean slate--you'd be busy!

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  2. Well worth the wait especially with the potential of having a nice specimen like the one on your last pic. The first one you planted is looking great already though. Hopefully the Yucca queretaroensis will not suffer too much from being moved and will re establish quick.

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    1. It's a great plant. I wonder why it is not more popular here--actually I don't need to wonder--people want fast, fast, fast, and overlook everything else. The Yucca...I can only hope.

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  3. Wow! Are the flowers orange or red? In the May 2012 picture they look more orange than in the February 2013 photo. I brought a variegated dwarf variety, M. villosa 'Tahitian Sunset' (I think) with me from our old house and plunked it into my backyard border, where it's done nothing - after 3+ years in the ground, it's still only about 1 foot tall and has never bloomed. Perhaps I'll move it when I have more space post-lawn removal. It'd be nice to see it gain some ground.

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    1. They seem to get quite red during May-Gray/June-Gloom, but have been more orange in all-day bright sun. Did you read the San Marcos website comments on 'Tahitian'? "may be too slow growing"? So its not you...too bad, sounds like potentially a great little shrub.

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    2. I did see the SMG comments on it. I had it at least a year before we moved (albeit in a container) and it's been in the ground here more than 3 so that's beyond slow. It's too bad - the foliage is attractive.

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  4. It's a gorgeous plant! Interesting how much difference a fresh plant makes. I would have thought that the weaker plant would catch up once it got in the ground.

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    1. I thought so as well--a good part of it might be the ant's nest, as they suck moisture from the root system. Must find a good ant bait.

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  5. Beautiful that Metrosideros, I should like to grow it in my garden but the climate does not allow me. I've seen them in New Zealand as trees and they flower in December, they call them there the Christmas tree.

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    1. Yes, we call them New Zealand Christmas tree here. M. excelsa. The collina blooms more in spring and then a bit off and on all summer long. They like the mild coast here. They do not want harsh inland heat.

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  6. What good insight. I'm notorious for being impatient in my garden. I advise clients that it takes a few years for most plants to really get established, but I have a sign on my desk that says: 'Take my advice, I'm not using it!" In buying plants on sale, I guess we often pay another price in the garden.

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    1. Well, if a garden teaches anything, it teaches patience. Take my advice, I'm not using it--funny sign. I need one of those! :-)

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