Red Birds in a Tree: A Drought-Tolerant Flower That’s a MAGNET for Hummingbirds

by | Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Red Birds in a Tree is a xeric flower that's good for drought-tolerant western gardens.i

During the pandemic, my husband and I re-worked part of our yard with new garden beds. (Any other weekend warriors out there?)

I wanted to include drought-tolerant red flowers that would grow well in Colorado’s poor soils and hot, dry climate.

And that’s when I fell in love with a flower called Red Birds in a Tree… and so did our local hummingbirds!

Hummingbirds LOVE this flower.

My husband walks inside every morning after walking the dog and announces, “The hummingbirds are outside. Again.”

Here are 5 reasons to consider adding Red Birds in a Tree to your western garden:

The red flowers on Scropularia macrantha look like red birds in a tree.

Image used with permission from Plant Select

1) Unique flowers

The flowers on this plant look like little pinkish-red birds sitting on tree branches.

Aren’t they so cute?

This flower plant isn’t the showiest one I have in my garden, but it’s the one that my neighbors always ask about.

It’s an attention-getter because it’s unusual.

2) Long-lasting color

Red Birds in a Tree is a perennial (a flower that returns each year).

Most perennials bloom for a short window of time — sometimes only a few weeks!

But not this one.

This plant blooms for a LONG time.

Over the last two summers, this flower has started blooming in my Denver garden in late June. Once it starts flowering, it keeps going and going.

Are you familiar with plant hardiness zones? They tell you whether a plant is likely to survive the coldest winter temperatures that are expected where you live. Red Birds in a Tree is ideal for gardens in plant hardiness zones 4-9.

3) It’s very drought tolerant

When you first plant Red Birds in a Tree, you’ll want to water it consistently while it’s a young plant.

But once it gets established in your garden, this plant is VERY drought tolerant.

You can even grow this plant in xeric gardens. Xeric gardens get their water from Mama Nature, and that’s about it. There’s almost no supplemental irrigation.

Do you have a spot in your yard that doesn’t get irrigation from a sprinkler system? It doesn’t have to be barren! Red Birds in a Tree could be a great plant for that area.

Red Birds in a Tree can handle up to moderate irrigation too.

But my understanding is, if this plant gets more frequent watering and your dirt is “loam” (meaning you have well-balanced soil), this plant may not live for as many years.

The red flowers on Scropularia macrantha look like red birds in a tree.

Image used with permission from Plant Select

4) It’s easy going

Red Birds in a Tree grows well in all kinds of sunlight. It isn’t picky.

You can put it in sunny spots or partly shady spots.

This plant also grows in different types of soils (the dirt in your garden). This is a good thing because western soils can be a pain in the booty.

This flower plant is adaptable.

And it’s good for elevations up to about 8125 feet.

5) It’s native

Red Birds in a Tree is native to New Mexico.

If you want to buy plants that are native to our region, add this one to your list.

Where to buy Red Birds in a Tree

You should be able to find this flower plant at independent garden centers that carry the Plant Select brand.

You also can google, “Red Birds in a Tree,” to find online retailers.

Just so you have it, the botanical name is Scrophularia macrantha.

(Try saying that 3 times quickly. Ha!)

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Ann from Go West Gardener with her flowerpots and garden

Hey there, I'm Ann

I’m a Certified Colorado Gardener, dog mama and Midwesterner-turned-Colorado girl. I help budding gardeners in the intermountain west get more confident with flower gardening, so you can create an outdoor space you love. More about Ann >>

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