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How to Grow Firecracker Plant — Crossandra

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Crossandra is a shrubby plant with glossy, dark green leaves and tubular orange to salmon-pink flowers. Crossandra starts blooming when the plant is just 2 or 3 inches (5-8cm) tall.

Crossandra will grow 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall. Flowers appear on spikes from spring through fall.

Crossandra is a rounded, shrubby plant that adapts well to indoor growing. It has oval or lance-shaped foliage; the tubular flowers open into five round lobes. Blooms appear in clusters at the ends of the branches.

Crossandra is a genus of 50 species of evergreen shrubs and subshrubs native to tropical Africa, Madagascar, India, and Sri Lanka.

Get to know Crossandra

  • Plant type: Tropical perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 10-11
  • Hardiness: Best temperature: 72° to 78°F (22°-26°C) daytime; 60° to 68°F (16°-20°C) nighttime.
  • Height and width: 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Glossy, dark green, ovate leaves similar to gardenia
  • Flowers: Tubular orange, to salmon-pink flowers with a bright yellow eye; blossoms appear in clusters of two or three; each flower to 2 inches (5cm) across
  • Bloom time: Spring through fall; each flower spike last 1½ to 2 weeks
  • Uses: Houseplant
  • Common name: Crossandra, Firecracker flower
  • Botanical name: Crossandra infundibuliformis
  • Family: Acanthaceae
  • Origin: India

Where to plant Crossandra

  • Light oudoors: Plant Crossandra in full sun.
  • Light indoors; Crossandra needs direct morning sun from an eastern exposure in summer; it needs direct sun from a southern exposure in winter.
  • Soil outdoors: Plant Crossandra in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Soil indoors: Plant Crossandra in an all-purpose potting mix with good drainage.

How to water and feed Crossandra

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for Crossandra. Mist daily to maintain humidity of 45 to 55 percent; use a humidity tray.
  • Fertilize with a complete fertilizer every two weeks.

Crossandra care

  • Repot Crossandra in fresh soil every spring; pot up Crossandra only when roots completely crowd the pot.
  • Remove spent flowers immediately.
  • Prune Crossandra in spring to maintain shape.
  • Let the plant rest during winter; reduce water, giving just enough to prevent the soil from drying out; withhold fertilizer.

Growing Crossandra as a houseplant

  • Crossandra needs bright light, a warm room, and high humidity; if humidity is too low, leaves will curl, and the plant will not flower.
  • The potting medium should be extra rich and kept evenly moist at all times during the growth and flowering periods.
  • Fertilize every two weeks when the plant is growing or flowering.
  • During fall and winter, allow the medium to dry out slightly between watering, and do not fertilize.
  • If plants become leggy, the growing tips can be pinched to encourage compactness.

Crossandra pests and diseases

  • Crossandra is susceptible to attack by mealybugs and spider mites.
  • Crossandra flowers are sometimes attacked by gray mold.
  • Crossandra is prone to stem and root rot.

Crossandra propagation

  • Propagate Crossandra by cuttings or seed.
  • Root semi-ripe cutting with bottom heat in early spring.

Crossandra varieties to grow

  • There are 50 species of Crossandra.
  • Crossandra infundibuliformis is grown as a houseplant; it reaches 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall; shiny, wavy-edge 2 to 5 inche leaves; bright orange or salmon flowers, 1-inch flowers; clusters measure to 6 inches wide.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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