If you google firecracker plant, the results might come up with the firecracker bush, coral plant, fountain bush, firecracker fern, coral fountain plant, etc.
But don’t get confused. All these are different names for the Russelia equisetiformis, aka the firecracker plant.
It won’t be wrong to say that this beautiful deep red or slight orange-flowered perennial is the ideal houseplant for plantaholics that love to add a colorful hint to their garden.
They might look like challenging plants, but honestly, they are not. Yes! They can be relatively easy to care for if you follow basic steps or instructions.
Let’s dig in to know everything you can do for a thriving firecracker plant.
Native to Mexico and Guatemala, the russelia is a long-lived plant with fine-textured stems and red tubular flowers that resemble a firecracker. It is a weeping subshrub that lays low in moderate shade but can have long showy red flowering cascades in full sun (grows vertically).
But, what is a weeping subshrub? In general, a weeping tree is a plant variety or subshrub that has characterized soft drooping twigs. These limp branches make the flora bent down and form a cascade of droopy flowers.
The binomial name russelia equisetiformis is pronounced as ‘Russ-ELL-ee-uh Eck-wiss-ee-tiff-FOR-miss.’
Russelia is named after Dr. Andrew Russel, while the equisetiformis comes from the Latin name ‘Horsetail plant’ equisætum.
Here, read a quick firecracker plant introduction:
Yes, it was popular even back then. So, how can you plant the beautiful firecracker bush in your home garden to fill the space with its colorful and enchanting red orangy flowers?
Let’s discuss in our next section of ‘Easy-to-Follow Firecracker Plant Care.’
Firecracker Plant Care
The firecracker plant is a full sun-loving perennial that requires maximum light to produce cascades of red flowers. Put it outdoors in summer and let it soak the bright sunlight but move it back indoors for winter as it is frost-tender. It has medium watering needs and is among the drought-tolerant plants.
Firecracker plant care is not hard or tricky. Yes! You only need to get all the basics right, and your coral plant will be off to evergreen life. Here, see the easy-to-follow steps:
USDA Zone: 8B, 9, 10, 11
Light: Bright to Full sunlight (can tolerate medium light but will law low; small size)
Soil Type: Well-drained soil or potting mix with perlite, sand, and layer of peat hummus
Soil pH: Neutral (6.6-7.5), Mildly acidic (6.1-6.5), or alkaline (7.6-7.8)
Watering: Water Regularly or Weekly in Summer & Less in Winter (let the topsoil dry between watering)
Temperature: 15°C (59°F) to 24°C (75°F); Frost-Tender (Move Indoor in Winter)
Humidity Level: 40%
Propagation: Easy propagation in water, soil, sphagnum moss
Fertilizer: Controlled-Release Fertilizer (Liquid) in Fall, Spring, & Summer
1. Light & Placement
The Mexican firecracker plant is a sun-loving perennial that will thrive with beautiful orange-red blooms in full to partial light.
To match Guatemala, United States-Florida, or Mexico’s warm environment conditions in your region, place the coral plant somewhere in the house with the maximum light. A south-east-facing window can be the ideal position as it gets more light time than the north-facing window.
But, if your house doesn’t have a bright sunlight spot, make sure to choose the area with somewhat partial shade.
Note: Firecracker plants tend to lay (bound to the soil, small-sized plants with less to no blooms) in moderate shade and low sunlight exposure.
Firecracker bush can be considered a forgiving plant when it comes to soil needs. It demands well-drained soil to sit in like Selenicerus Grandiflorus.
It can do well in pretty much any soil type like clay, loamy, sandy, chalk. If you want to plant it in containers, choose a standard potting mix with sand and perlite for the proper drainage.
When it comes to soil pH for firecracker fern, it can survive mild acidic and alkaline ranges. You can also add an organic layer of peat hummus above the soil.
The mature firecracker plant is drought tolerant and has medium watering needs. But the baby russelia requires a proper watering schedule in the early growing stages.
In summer, when the temperature is warm, water the plant regularly with a nozzle sprayer to let it reach every leaf and flower. You can also follow a weekly watering routine, depending on your region.
Allow the soil to dry between the watering sessions as Mexican firecracker doesn’t like to sit in wet soil.
Note: Keep your plant a little dry by reducing the water spraying days in the winters.
Based on their warm natural habitat, the ideal temperature range for firecracker plant care is between 15°C (59°F) – 24°C (75°F). It can endure a minimum of 12°C (54°F), but anything below may cause the coral fountain to wither and die.
The firecracker flowers can survive the warm and hotter summer outdoors but won’t do well in winter’s freezing temperatures as it is not frost-tolerant. So, it is best to bring this plant indoors in the cold season.
Remember to put it in a bright spot indoors with the maximum amount of partial or full sunlight.
The coral bush of Florida blooms all year round. What could be the reason? The warm environment? Full sun? Rich drainage soil?
Well, if we must say a combination of all of these! If you want to see your firecracker plant bloom all year long, too, you got to fulfill all the basic care needs.
Fertilize your russelia with a controlled-release liquid fertilizer (diluted to half strength) once every two weeks in fall-spring and once every month during winters.
Now, you must be thinking about why you should fertilize the firecracker flower with a controlled or slow-release fertilizer and not the standard one? The red fern plant first grows erect and then forms a firecracker flower cascade that hangs vertically. It tends to cover a lot of space around it.
And a typical fertilizer will only burn the plant-soil area without providing it with the essential nutrients all over the firecracker tree.
Note: You can also include additional feeding supplements with a water-soluble fertilizer to promote and support flowers’ heavy blooming.
The coral fountain is a drought-tolerant plant. Yes, it can survive low humidity, but it doesn’t mean it won’t appreciate a little more moisture. The ideal humidity level is 40%.
If you live in a somewhat dry region, there could be three possible ways to increase your plant’s moisture level.
- Use an effective humidifier
- Mist the firecracker plant leaves regularly
- Put a water-pebble tray underneath the pot
7. Potting & Repotting
To pot the fountain plants, choose a container or flowering pot that provides enough space to grow freely, i.e., let the red tubular flower spread out. If you want to see them attracting the hummingbirds, you should prefer to plant them in taller pots with a drainage hole or place the potted bowl on a height.
But if you want to spread it on the ground, make sure to dig in a small hole of the same depth and twice the width as the firecracker root ball. Carefully place the coral plant in the hole and cover the surrounding with the soil leveling with the ground.
When it comes to repotting, coral fountain grass needs to be transferred annually. Choose to repot the plant at the start of the year. Here’s how you can do it:
The first and foremost step is to take a fresh, well-drained potting mix rich in nutrients combined with some previous pot soil. Place the old plant into a new pot.
Finally, put this in a bright area with full sun and water regularly to see the best results.
Pro-Tip: Make the mixing mess-free with this foldable gardening mat.
8. Propagation & Growth
Firebush plants show moderate to fast growth if provided with the basic caring needs. The plant can grow up to 3ft to 6ft tall and 4ft to 6ft wider.
There are four ways to propagate red firecracker fern: division, layering, seeds, and stem cutting. Out of all the techniques, stem cutting is considered the easiest. In contrast, new growth from seed requires providing the plant with a moderate temperature, humidity, sunlight, and watering needs.
Firecracker plant propagation by stem cutting method:
Cut a stem with a tree grafter kit 6 inches right below the node (with two to three leaves), place it in new soil with 3 inches remaining out of the pot and 3 inches inside the soil.
Pro-Tip: Place the freshly developed roots in a warm and bright room. Keep misting the growing plant regularly as it requires more care.
9. Maintenance & Pruning
The inclusive growth, maintenance, and health of the firecracker plant depend on the pruning. How? Well, if you have read even the basic gardening tips and tricks for thriving plants, you must know that the plant’s beauty is maintained by pruning.
And, as we explained earlier, the fountain bush is popular due to its beautiful red tubular flowers. Moreover, it expands to the surrounding area if provided with enough water, fertilizer, and sunlight. These all make its trimming even more essential.
So, when is the best time to cut back the overgrown coral fountain bush? During summer or spring and at the end of the winter.
It is recommended to do rejuvenating pruning for the coral plant after every few years.
Trimming is done to keep the growth from overcrowding the surrounding plants, remove the damaged nodes, or cut out the affected leaves.
Firecracker plant flowers continue to bloom all year round until the frost season, as they are not frost-tolerant.
It produces enchanting orangy-red, white, scarlet, coral, and pink flowers that can add a colorful hint to the beauty of your garden.
Although they continue to flower on and off during all months, their peak blooming time can be considered summer, late spring, or autumn.
Landscape/Ornamental Uses of Firecracker Plant
Have you decided to increase the lively vibes of your garden with the firecracker flowers and lots of easily growable lush green grasss? Here are some ways how can use its ornamental beauty for your home:
- Accentuate your pathway
- A perfect hanging plant for your patio
- Pot in containers to highlight your porch
- Plant under palm trees
- Beautify a poolside
- Grow along the fence to decorate the outdoors
- Circle around the water fountain
Pro-Tip: If you want to improve the beauty of your outdoor garden, plant colorful varieties of the firecracker plant on an evergreen biodegradable grass mat to highlight their pop even more.
This can make even a barren land look beautiful. Yes! No more issues in beautifying your space!
Firecracker Plant Problems: FAQ
I. Is the firecracker plant poisonous or toxic?
Yes! Yes! And, yes! Every part of the firecracker plant is poisonous and not edible for pets, children, or anyone. But,
their nectar-filled blooms attract hummingbirds, caterpillars, or butterflies that are unharmed by this poison.
II. Is Firecracker Bush Invasive?
Fountain bush can overgrow the surrounding plants if they are provided with the primary care needs. They are considered invasive in the Florida state of United States where they get an ideal warm environment.
So, yes! If they are provided with their natural habitat elsewhere, they can suck up neighboring plants’ resources.
III. Where should I plant my coral fountain bush?
If you decide to pot them with other houseplants or are thinking about decorating your entryway with the lovely firecracker plant, make sure to keep a distance of 4ft-6ft not to let the surrounding area suffer.
IV. Can I grow a firecracker bush outdoors in Arizona or Florida?
Yes! the firecracker plant’s cold hardiness makes it ideal for potting outdoors in the region of Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, South Carolina, etc.
V. Why do my russelia equisetiformis have brown leaves?
It could be due to overwatering or poor drainage. Make sure to follow the watering routine mentioned above and choose a planting pot with holes.
VI. What are those dots on my firecracker plant?
The tiny dots indicate that your coral plant is under the attack of spider mites or mealybugs.
An equal amount of lukewarm water mixed with the liquid dish soap solution and 2 tbsp neem oil can help remove both. You can also add the insecticidal solution to a spray bottle and mist it all over your plant.
The firecracker plant is a beautiful perennial that blooms red-orange tubular flowers almost all year.
Moreover, firecracker plant care can become relatively easy if you master all the basic growth requirements needed to see the coral bush thriving.
This fountain bush also has numerous ornamental or landscape uses that can add a lively vibe to your lawn, patio, and outdoor fence. What more do you need in a houseplant? Want to know? Visit Inspire Uplift Gardening Category for more!
Lastly, Did you grow it? Or have you seen it somewhere around y our region? share your thoughts about this cascading plant in the comment section below.
Happy planting, fellows!