Shrubs

Justicia Rizzinii Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Brazilian Fuchsia”

Guide to Justicia Rizzinii - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for “Brazilian Fuchsia” Shrubs
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If you have not already experienced love at first sight, you just have to take a look at these stunning flowering plants! These friendly specimens cannot wait to be loved and cared for by their owner and will not hesitate to return the affection tenfold. So, leave the shyness behind and let yourself be mesmerized by a Firecracker flower!

Justicia rizzinii, also known as Jacobinia Pauciflora and commonly known as the Firecracker flower or Brazilian fuchsia, is a species of flowering shrubs in the Acanthaceae family. This lovely evergreen plant can be found growing only in several subtropical regions of Brazil.

With its interesting foliage and nice-looking blooms, the Firecracker flower can be an excellent addition to any gardener’s surroundings. These shrubs are most suitable for outdoor environments, such as Mediterranean gardens, but they can also make for gorgeous indoor houseplants when planted in cute pots. In regions where winter comes along with frosty conditions, many growers keep their Firecracker flowers in conservatories or greenhouses.

Besides their scientific name, Firecracker flowers come along with additional botanical synonyms including Justicia pauciflora, Justicia floribunda, and Jacobinia pauciflora. If you want to have one of these beauties around, you should know that they can also be found in nurseries and markets by these names. If you already bought one, all you have to do is find a nice spot for your new shrubby companion, and let it surprise you with its easy-going nature and superb appearance!

Images in this post are credited to Champion Plants.

About Firecracker Flowers

  • Although one of their common names is Brazilian fuchsia, these plants are not closely related to the true fuchsias.
  • The specific epithet “rizzinii” was attributed to Firecracker flowers to honor a Brazilian botanist and mycologist known as Carlos Toledo Rizzini.
  • Thanks to their lush foliage and showy flowers, they have gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Resembling firecrackers, the blooms of Justicia rizzinii are on display from autumn to spring.
  • The blooms of these shrubs are known to be very attractive to hummingbirds.
  • Firecracker flowers do well in full to partial sunlight all-year-round, but they require some protection during the harsh summer months. They bloom better when exposed to plenty of bright light.
  • These shrubs can grow without any problems in many types of soil, from clay loam to sandy loam. For optimal growth, they demand well-draining substrates that are rich in organic matter or nutrients.
  • They require a little extra help with regular pruning and annual fertilizing to look always fresh and ready to impress.
  • Like many lovely houseplants, Firecracker shrubs are sensitive to over-watering.
  • There are no toxic effects reported for Firecracker flowers, so they can be grown safely around your beloved ones including curious children and pets.
Justicia rizzinii
Justicia rizzinii

Firecracker Flowers Features: An Overview

  • Firecracker flowers belong to the Justicia genus, which is the largest one within the acanthus family. It contains about 700 species of flowering shrubs with hundreds more on their way to be resolved.
  • They are dwarf shrubs that can reach between 12 and 24 inches (30-60 cm) in both height and width. Due to this similar spread, the overall growth is round-shaped.
  • Some specimens can also grow from 3 to 4 feet (90-120 cm) in height and diameter, but these dimensions can be reached only in their natural habitat.
  • The foliage is composed of tiny, oblong to broadly oval, and mid to dark green leaves that grow on soft, downy, and greenish-brown stems. Each pair of leaves present one leaf smaller than the other.
  • During their blooming period, from autumn to late spring, Firecracker shrubs produce hypnotic flowers that appear in many nodding clusters.
  • Their flowers are tubular and usually measure up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in length. They come in intense shades of red with a nice touch of orange to yellow through their tips.
  • Firecracker flowers can make for great companions to other species of flowering plants, such as the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Red Dragon’ (Tropical Hibiscus), Russelia equisetiformis (Coral Plant), or Dicksonia antarctica (Soft Tree Fern).

Growing Firecracker Flowers

The best part about growing and caring for Firecracker shrubs is that they do not require much effort on your part to thrive. Firecracker flowers have no high demands from their owners, and they are more than pleased as long as they are provided with proper light conditions, temperatures, and lots of love.

Firecracker flowers are not picky when it comes to how much sunlight they can tolerate. However, these shrubs grow at their best when they receive plenty of bright and indirect light all-year-round with partial sunlight during the hot summer months. Make sure you protect your plants from any direct sunlight exposure because it may scorch their leaves and burn the blooms.

Firecracker flower
Firecracker flower

In terms of temperatures, Firecracker flowers are frost tender and prefer mid-cool to slightly warm environments. If you live in a region with harsh winters, you should grow your shrubs in a greenhouse or conservatory. You can also bring potted plants inside when temperatures start to drop below 50 °F (10 °C). When they are exposed to lower temperatures for long periods, these plants will grow slower and produce fewer flowers than usual.

As with most shrubs, Firecracker flowers can be occasionally bothered by whiteflies and red spider mites. To prevent any kind of infestation, you can place yellow sticky cards near your plants or add a reflective mulch under them. If your shrubs have already been infested, treat the unhealthy parts with suitable insecticides and pesticides.

Planting Firecracker Flowers

When it comes to the planting substrate, Firecracker flowers can withstand a wide range of soil types from acidic to alkaline. However, no matter what kind of soil you choose to plant your shrubs in, it must have excellent drainage. In general, they thrive in soils like sand, loam, chalk, and clay.

In the first two years after planting, young Firecracker flowers will need extra phosphorus to ensure healthy root development. After they are settled in their new environment, your Firecracker plants will benefit from regular fertilizing during their active growing season. Feed your shrubs with an all-purpose fertilizer or one that is specifically designed for flowering plants once every year.

You can prune your shrubs to rejuvenate them and encourage new growth, flower production, and increase airflow to prevent any possible disease. Firecracker flowers are best pruned each year after their blooming period has ended in late winter or spring. However, it is worth mentioning that these shrubs usually require little to no pruning, but you can do it regularly if you want to maintain a certain size and shape.

Watering Firecracker Flowers

This process can be pretty fun because Firecracker flowers can be tolerant of drought for short periods if they are grown in proper soil. Yes, these plants require well-draining soils, but they also love some moisture to keep their feet wet. Be careful though, as over-watering is one of the most common problems met while caring for these shrubs. You can avoid waterlogging or soggy conditions by allowing the excess water to drain away.

In general, you can make your Firecracker flowers happy by watering them only once every week. Depending on the environmental conditions, the frequency of watering may vary from one plant to another. In hot and dry summer months, these shrubs will probably need watering more often than they usually do. Moreover, you can water your plants only once a month if you live in a region with lots of humidity like abundant rainfalls.

During their blooming period, from fall to spring, Firecracker flowers will need regular watering to keep their blooms in shape. Make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings and provide with water only when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch.

Jacobinia Pauciflora
Jacobinia Pauciflora

Propagating Firecracker Flowers

Firecracker flowers are too gorgeous to be missed and no one can ignore their hypnotic presence. Used very often in landscape decoration, they can also be a nice dash of color in any home or garden, whether it is yours or a loved one’s. Luckily, these shrubs can be propagated through softwood cuttings without difficulties along the way.

If you want to propagate your Firecracker flowers using softwood cuttings, you must do it in the spring after their blooming period has ended. The cuttings taken from the mother plant should have at least three pairs of leaves on the top half and none on the bottom half. Once you have as many cuttings as you want, you can plant them in individual pots filled with suitable and well-draining soil.

For optimal results, you can cover the softwood cuttings with glass or place them in a warm and shaded location to protect them from any direct sunlight exposure. If you water the cuttings once every day for a few weeks, they should develop a healthy root system very fast. When the Firecracker flowers babies can stand on their own, provide them with the same fertilizer used for their parent to encourage better growth and blooming.

In Conclusion

As a plant-lover, you know that there is always room for one more ornamental houseplant. Now that you already know the basics of growing and caring for these eye-catching babies, you have no reason not to give them a chance. As long as you pay attention to your Firecracker flowers’ needs, you will have a flowering shrubby friend around for decades!

Are you a fan of Firecracker shrubs? We’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments below!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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