Botanical Name: Russelia equisetiformis
Firecracker plant is a weeping shrub bursting with long sprays of orange-red flowers that lend it its name. Other common names include coral plant and coral fountain plant.
The narrow, tubular flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) long and cover the plant from late spring till fall. Actually, it can flower any time of year, given enough warmth and light. You'll get the most blooms by putting it in full sun. Moving it outdoors for the summer is ideal. It's attractive to passersby as well as to butterflies and hummingbirds.
Show it off. Display your firecracker plant in a large hanging basket and allow it to cascade, showing off the fine-textured foliage covered with bright flower clusters. Give it some space, too. This spectacular, many-branching shrub can spread as wide as it is tall.
Prune it back. By pruning off stems that have already flowered, you'll get more flowers! Cut off spent flower stems at the base anytime. To keep your plant a manageable size, prune it back hard in early spring.
Bring it in. This shrub is an evergreen perennial that's frost-tender. Unless you live in a year-round warm climate, expect to overwinter it indoors. Keep it in a warm, sunny location. Reduce watering because growth will slow down in winter.
Height: 3-6 ft (90 cm - 1.8 m) tall; trails to 6 ft (1.8 m)
Light: Bright light to full sun
Water: Water thoroughly, allowing the top of the soil to dry out between waterings. Mature plants are drought-tolerant, so it's a good idea to keep them on the dry side.
Humidity: Average room humidity
Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-75°F/18-24°C. If you move your plant outside for the warm months, don't worry -- it can take the heat. It's hardy in USDA Zones 9b-11. It won't tolerate freezing temperatures.
Soil: Any good potting mix with a little added perlite or sand for quick drainage.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half. In winter, feed monthly.
Propagation: Take stem tip cuttings in spring.
Firecracker plants require lots of light to bloom. Move it outdoors for the summer and set it in the sunniest spot you can provide.
This is a frost-tender plant. In fact, it doesn't do well in cold temperatures, so be sure to bring it back indoors when the temperature drops in fall.
Russelia equisetiformis may be hard to find in garden centers, but is available for sale online.
Many colors are available: red, yellow, orange, white and pink. Some popular named varieties include 'Salmon Pink', 'Yellow Gold' and 'Tangerine Falls'.