This heat-loving tropical plant will bring color to your garden or home during warm months.
Crossandra (Crossandra infundibuliformis), sometimes called firecracker flower, can be used as a houseplant or in the landscape. This tropical flower is easy to grow and will bring attention in any setting.
Crossandra is native to India and Sri Lanka, where its blossoms are often combined with jasmine to adorn women's hair. It is related to the Mexican petunia and the yellow shrimp plant.
This tropical perennial will grow up to 3 feet tall, with glossy, textured leaves that are oval-shaped and can grow up to 5 inches long.
Crossandra has clusters of tubular flowers that are usually salmon, but can also be shades of red, yellow, and pink. There are several new varieties out now with orange flowers, such as 'Florida Sunset' and 'Orange Marmalade.'
They attach to long, upright stems and have five asymmetrical petals that overlap each other, creating an attractive, compact color display. Crossandra's flowers are very delicate and easily damaged by rain. Pollinators such as butterflies and dragonflies are attracted to the colorful blossoms.
Crossandra thrives in warm, humid environments and cannot tolerate cold weather. They perform as perennials in Central and South Florida, but should be used as container or annual plants otherwise. Crossandra plants are slow growing, but make wonderful flowering houseplants if given adequate light.
Planting and Care
This plant is fairly easy to care for and can be purchased at most garden centers. Plant your crossandra in well-drained soil amended with peat or other organic matter. The soil should be kept moist, not soggy, at all times and never allowed to dry out. A balanced fertilizer should be applied every month during the spring and summer, and then every eight weeks in the fall and winter.
Crossandra loves heat and does best in hardiness zones 9-11. While it can tolerate up to four hours of direct sun per day, this shrub can also be grown in partially shaded areas. Crossandra loves humidity and its leaves can be misted regularly if kept indoors.
This plant is propagated by stem cuttings and should be started in the spring for best results. Check leaves regularly for spider mites and whitefly, although these plants are not commonly affected.
For more information on crossandra, contact your county Extension office.