Botanical Name: Crossandra infundibuliformis
Origin: The Firecracker Flower originates from the tropical regions of Sri Lanka and Southern India.
Height: Crossandra infundibuliformis will grow to a total height of approximately 60 cm (2 ft).
Soil: Firecracker Flowers are quite content in any general purpose, high quality potting mixes.
Light: This house plant requires plenty of bright light and will even tolerate a little direct morning sunlight.
Humidity: Humidity needs to be raised to moderate to high levels in order to keep Crossandra infundibuliformis well and happy.
Temperatures: Being of tropical origin, Firecracker Flowers tend to prefer year-round temperatures ranging between 16 and 24 degrees C (60 to 75 degrees F).
Water: This type of plant needs to be watered thoroughly, although the top of the soil (2.5 cm/ 1 in) should be allowed to dry out from one watering session to the next. Allowing the soil to become soggy will invariably result in the plant dying, and should therefore be avoided at all times.
Fertiliser: A 20-20-10 diluted (50:50) liquid fertiliser should be fed to the Crossandra infundibuliformis once a fortnight during the months of spring and summer.
Propagation: Firecracker Flowers can be propagated from stem tip cuttings, which should be approximately 7.5 cm (3 in) long. The best time to propagate the plant in this manner is during the spring.
Description and Care Tips
With proper care under suitable conditions, the stunning Firecracker Flower can be depended on to bloom for months on end, from spring onward right into autumn. Unlike many other house plants, even young Crossandra infundibuliformis will eagerly send up clusters of gorgeous flowers during this period.
Growing in opposite pairs, the leaves of this attractive plant are glossy and deeply veined. They will grow up to a length of around 13 cm (5 in) and feature wavy edges.
The asymmetrical petals (ranging between three and five in numbers) of the Firecracker Flower's unusual, fan-shaped blooms - held upright from tubular, green tracts on stalked, four-sided spikes- may be pink, coral, red, yellow, apricot, salmon-pink, turquoise or orange in colour.
After the flowers have faded and dried, seed-pods will emerge. These pods will - given the surrounding humidity is high enough - burst, or 'explode', to scatter the contained seeds. The Firecracker Flowers owes its name to this 'explosion'.
Warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year are essential to keep this house plant healthy looking. Exposure to cold air and drafts from windows, doors or air-conditioning vents may cause it to drop leaves. Insufficient levels of humidity will cause the tips of the leaves to turn brown. Keeping levels adequately high will not only prevent this, but will also assist in the prevention of spider mite infestations (spider mites prefer dry conditions).
Placing the Firecracker Flower among a group of other tropical plants not only makes a striking display, it will also help to adequately raise surrounding humidity levels for all of the plants involved.
In spring (before the first buds appear), Crossandra infundibuliformis may need repotting. It is best to use a fairly small pot, as the plant will bloom more abundantly when its roots are slightly crowded. Naturally, a pot with drainage holes should be used to prevent soil from becoming too soggy.