Russelia equisetiformis, commonly known as the Firecracker plant, is a wonderful species that can bring lots of ornamental value to any home or garden. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, this beauty can make for a nice accent plant with its gracious rain of white or bright pinkish-red blossoms and full-looking foliage.
If you are looking forward to adding a Firecracker plant to your garden, you will surely enjoy growing and caring for this plant. Even for beginner growers, the Firecracker plant is more than a delight to have around thanks to its super low-demanding style.
In general, you will have to pay only a little extra attention to it in its first year of growth. But once it reaches maturity, this shrubby friend becomes tolerant of drought and will not require as much care as in its youth.
Keep reading to find out everything you should know about Russelia equisetiformis a.k.a. the Firecracker plant!
About Firecracker Plant
- Besides the Firecracker plant, other common names for the Russelia equisetiformis species include the Coral plant, Fountainbush, Coralblow, Fountain plant, and Coral fountain. You might find it in nurseries or markets under any of these interesting names.
- The Firecracker plant belongs to the Russelia genus in the Plantaginaceae family. It shares this genus with other alluring species. However, the Firecracker plant is the representative species of this genus and it is quite common for all members of the genus to be known as firecracker plants or coralblows.
- The specific epithet “equisetiformis” means “like Equisetum”, referring to Equisetum (Horse tail rush), which is a distantly related plant. It is also a way to describe the general growth habit of this plant.
- In the UK, the Firecracker plant has gained the distinguished Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
- The Firecracker plant is also a species of interest for some pollinators. Its flowers contain plenty of nectar, making it attract beneficial visitors like native bees and butterflies and even hummingbirds to your garden.
- Because it is a versatile plant, you can use the Firecracker plant to create unique plant combinations in your garden. This plant is a fabulous addition to various landscape uses. You can place it along a fence, under palms or trees, along a porch or deck, at the end of a mixed bed, as a wide accent plant for a butterfly garden, a filler for a corner, cascading over a wall, in mass plantings, or even in hanging baskets or containers. The Firecracker plant can also be planted near swimming pools and other types of water features, where its foliage can spill over for a nice ornamental effect.
- For the most outstanding floral combinations, we suggest you plant your Firecracker plant near others with similar growing needs. Some of these companions are the Copper plant, Silver buttonwood, Nandina, Chenille plant, Loropetalum, Canna, Alocasia, Acacia, Ruellia, and Hibiscus.
- Some sources say that the Firecracker plant is a remarkable medicinal plant. The methanolic extracts of this plant can be helpful for hair thickening and regrowth, inflammatory disorders, leukaemia, malaria, diabetes, and even cancer.
- The Russelia equisetiformis species produces attractive red flowers. However, other cultivars come along with pink or ivory white blossoms.
- The Firecracker plant has a tendency to become invasive if left to do what it pleases. It is best to plant it at a distance from other species and prune it regularly to control its growth and spread.
- A not-so-great feature of the Firecracker plant is that its nectar is pretty poisonous if ingested, so you might want to grow it in a location where children or pets cannot reach it.
Firecracker Plant Features: An Overview
- The Firecracker plant is a perennial species of flowering shrubs. Depending on the environmental conditions, this plant can reach about 6 feet (1.8 m) in height and usually spread up to 2 feet (60 cm) in width.
- This plant contains tap roots that have a woody and wrinkled texture. The roots are brown and have a slightly bitter taste. They can store relatively high amounts of water.
- It is a sprawling shrub with its foliage consisting of small, oval, insignificant leaves that show up on dense, arching crowns of numerous long, slender, weeping, green branches. The branches are actually the ones who decide how tall this plant grows.
- The Firecracker plant features both lower and upper leaves. However, they often remain unseen due to the mass production of branches.
- The waterfall of branches becomes adorned with flowers from late spring through autumn. In areas with warmer climates, the Firecracker plant can bloom all year round.
- Its slightly long, bright, tubular, firecracker-like blossoms appear in many attractive clusters. They typically exhibit scarlet shades, but the flowers of some varieties may come in white or pink tints.
- Once the blooming period has come to an end, the lovely flowers will transition into tiny fruits that will also hang in clusters. These fruits are dark brown capsules that come in a spherical to oval shape and measure up to 0.22 inches (6 mm) in diameter.
- The fruits contain many small, oval, light brown seeds that are excellent to use for propagation if you want more Firecracker plants in your collection.
Growing Firecracker Plant
Having a Firecracker plant around will not only bring you lots of excitement and pleasant memories but also occupy you with little to no time for its caring routine. By the end of this guide, you will see that this buddy is a somewhat independent plant that can do well in a wide variety of growing conditions, especially when it reaches maturity. Keep reading to see what we are talking about!
The Firecracker plant will show the most profuse flowering if it grows in a site that provides it with plenty of bright, full sunlight each day. In case you cannot spoil it with this kind of lighting exposure, do not worry too much about it!
The Firecracker plant can also do just fine in a partially shaded spot. Still, you must remember that it will not bear as many blossoms as it would in a well-lit area.
Temperature-wise, the Firecracker plant is winter-hardy only in the USDA zones 9 to 11. It usually does best under temperatures that range from 65 to 75 (18-24) all year round. Although it can tolerate temperatures that are a bit colder than this range, the Firecracker plant will not manage to survive freezing conditions.
- Start Mina Lobata seeds for this impressive vine that will attract lots of attention. Mina Lobata vine is a tender perennial that is typically grown as an annual.
- Firecracker vine is is a perennial climbing plant growing up to 120 inches in USDA zones 9 - 11.
- Mina Lobata has many common names: Firecracker Vine, Fire Vine, Spanish Flag Vine, and Exotic Love Vine. This plant also has a synonymous botanical name of Ipomoea Lobata. The early Spanish Flag flower is reddish-orange, fading to orange, yellow, and white flowers in mid-summer to fall.
- This member of the morning glory family produces masses of dazzling 1 - 2 inch tubular flowers that mature and grow on this climbing vine that can reach 10 feet tall. Firecracker Vine has twining stems which are best grown on wire or lattice frames, and when it is in full bloom, it will never be forgotten!
- Sowing Rate: Soak overnight in cold water or file a tiny notch in the seed coat before sowing 1 - 2 seds per plant. Exotic Love Vine Mina Lobata is incredibly showy, and it deserves to be the focal point of your flower garden.
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- For best results, plant in full sun to partial shade. Zones 5-9
- Also known as Firecracker Penstemon, this perennial blazes with intense crimson color. This western native thrives in desert areas, so it is very resistant to heat and drought, making it an ideal choice for xeriscaping.
- Sowing: Direct sow in late fall, pressing into the surface of the soil since this seed needs light to germinate. For spring planting, mix the Eaton's Penstemon seeds with moist sand and store in the refrigerator for 30-60 days before planting. Keep the soil lightly moist until germination. This seed can also be started indoors 6-8 weeks before planting in the spring.
Last update on 2023-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you live in a place outside its hardiness zone, however, this does not mean that you cannot grow this plant if you fell in love with it and want it in your plant family! You can find a cute container for the plant and bring it inside your house in autumn before the weather goes too much on the cooler side.
As long as you provide your Firecracker plant with the right amount of sunlight and avoid over-watering it, you will keep away serious issues regarding pest infestations or fungal diseases. When this plant grows in improper conditions, it may become subject to attacks from caterpillars, spider mites, nematodes, and even root rot. As always, the best treatment is prevention.
But if something happens, you can get rid of pests by applying horticultural oils on your Firecracker plant until you see no sign of them.
Planting Firecracker Plant
The Firecracker plant brings the perfect ornamental value to a garden when you plant it in masses or with other interesting species. Since it tends to spread a bit too much, it would be wise to plant it at 3 to 4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) apart from other specimens. It is also best to plant the Firecracker plant well away from your house or walkways.
In terms of growing medium, the Firecracker plant is as easy-going as it can be. This flowering plant can thrive in almost any type of soil as long as it comes with very sharp drainage. It will withstand clay, chalks, sandy, or loamy soil textures.
Likewise, it will appreciate any soil pH level ranging from acidic to alkaline. If you want to grow your Firecracker plant in a container, you can use an ordinary potting mix and combine it with perlite or sand for optimal drainage.
The Firecracker plant will benefit from regular applications of fertilizer during its period of interest each year, from spring through summer. Make sure you feed this shrub with a balanced liquid fertilizer biweekly. Keep in mind that you should use the product only after you have diluted it at half strength.
The Firecracker plant is among those types of shrubs that have a messy growth and spread. With time, this shrub will become leggy and require a little extra help from you with pruning. You can do this in either spring or summer months and even choose a certain shape or size of your wish. This process is also a great way to get rid of any dead branches and promote new, healthy growth and flowering.
Watering Firecracker Plant
As with most species of shrubs, you will not have to water your Firecracker plant constantly to give it the time of its life. The only period when this plant will need more water than usual is its first year of growth until it settles in its new home.
Once established, the Firecracker plant becomes a low-maintenance companion that will need supplemental water only if it did not get it from rainfall.
Even if the Firecracker plant will appreciate regular watering throughout its active growing period, you should avoid drowning it in too much water. The best way to avoid waterlogging is to wait for its growing medium to dry out entirely before watering your plant again.
Propagating Firecracker Plant
The most common method to make more Firecracker plants for your garden is to propagate yours through cuttings or layering. Both techniques can show nice results with minimal effort and also in little to no time.
To propagate this plant via cuttings, you must wait for the spring to come, as this is when the Firecracker plant is most vigorous. When the time is right, choose a healthy branch that has at least two leaves at the end and cut about 6 inches (15 cm) off it. Remove all leaves except for the two ones that are at the tip of the cutting. Make small scratches of a few inches at the cut end of your cutting, then dip it in rooting hormone to promote faster growth and better results. Keep in mind that you should shake off excess powder to avoid damaging the cuttings with time.
After these steps, you can plant the cutting in a pot filled with moist, well-draining soil. You can use the same soil or potting mix you already use for the parent plant. Once you plant the cutting, cover the pot with a plastic bag and move it to a warm, indirect-lit area. Try to maintain the propagating medium constantly moist by removing the bag from time to time to check if the soil has dried. From now on, you will need to wait for the magic to happen!
If you want to propagate your Firecracker plant using the layering method, go on and look for a healthy, flexible branch that emerges from the plant’s base. Once you find it, you can place a little trench or a fresh pot of soil near your plant, bend the branch in it, and then weigh it down with a rock. The trench is usually common for specimens that grow outdoors in the ground, while the pot works better for indoor-grown Firecracker plants.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can care for it as you do with the mother plant until you see it sending new shoots and blooms. When this happens, this is a sign that your branch has developed a strong and healthy root system. This generally means that you can sever the branch from the main plant and give it its freedom. That’s all!
The Firecracker plant is a must-have for a garden that lacks a bushy filler, especially when it comes with its marvellous cascading branches and adorable clusters of flowers. And, luckily, it is not a picky shrub at all, so you can enjoy its presence for a long time without spending too much time keeping it healthy. All you have to do is to find this plant in nurseries, in a friend’s garden, or online and add it to your home or garden. This plant comes with plenty of benefits – it is attractive, easy to grow and propagate, not particularly sensitive to pests and diseases, and it will bring lots of joy through its blooms.
Are you growing Firecracker plants in your home or garden? Let us know in the comments!