239 Russelia equisetiformisCommon Names: firecracker plant, coral plant, coralblow, fountain plant Family: Scrophulariaceae (figwort Family)
Coral plant is a multi-branched subshrub with slender, rushlike stems that are angled with ridges and leaves that are reduced to little more than small scales. The wiry branches start out erect then fall over to cascade down in lengths as long as 4 ft (1.2 m). From spring until fall outdoors and all year long indoors, coral plant produces hanging clusters of scarlet tubular flowers about 1 in (2.5 cm) long that look like little firecrackers inspiring the plant's other common name, firecracker plant.
Coral plant, Russelia equisetiformis, is native to Mexico. It has escaped cultivation and established in disturbed sites in central and southern Florida and in other warm climate areas.
CultureGrow in a humus rich, well drained soil and fertilize regularly. Light: Full sun or partial shade. Moisture: Water regularly and don't let the soil dry out. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 12. Propagation: Easy to propagate from tip cuttings.
Coral plant is often grown in hanging baskets. It does well on the patio or indoors in front of a window. Outdoors, let coral plant spill over a wall or raised bed. Stems can be tied to a trellis or wall.
Coral plant is fast growing, easy to cultivate and blooms almost continuously. This plant is a must have for tropical butterfly gardens.
Another tender perennial, Cuphea ignea, is also sometimes called firecracker plant as well as cigar plant. It too is a fine butterfly and hummingbird plant and looks great planted with this firecracker plant.
Steve Christman 11/20/99; updated 10/23/03, 7/17/04