Firecracker Plant - Fountain Plant

Russelia equisetiformis

The firecracker plant forms a mound of cascading stems with needle-like green leaves tipped by tubular (most often) red flowers. Russelia equisetiformis looks a lot like a sparkler going off. Hence its common name.

This waterfall of vegetation is also sometimes called the fountain plant.



Firecracker plants uesd en masse at the Maui Tropical Plantation.

Although its drought tolerance makes Russelia equisetiformis a good candidate for hanging baskets, you should be aware that it can easily grow to a height and spread of 3 feet.

Maybe that's why most people around here (central Florida) plant it in the ground. I often see it used in xeric landscapes. If you want to plant it in a pot, a large urn would raise it high enough to allow the stems to cascade beautifully over the sides.

To get this plant to make its best impression, plant it in full sun. This will cause it to grow lush and thick and promote heavy bloom. If you want to grow it indoors, a greenhouse setting would be best for it.

<i>Russelia equisetiformis</i> basking in the sun.

The plant will grow in part shade but will not bloom as heavily. The stems will also be weaker.

Do not allow its drought tolerance to convince you that the fountain plant does not like water.

It does.

In fact, it performs best when watered regularly. Water it thoroughly but let the soil dry a bit between waterings. Poor drainage or too frequent watering will encourage root rot.

If you cut it back after it blooms, it will flower again. This will also cut down on the reseeding it would do otherwise.

Newly planted firecracker plants grouped together for greater impact. Newly planted firecracker plants grouped together for greater impact.

Fountain plant is a tender perennial which performs well in zones 9-11.

It makes a great addition to the butterfly garden as it is attractive to them.

Bees and hummingbirds are also drawn to it.

If you're using it to attract humming birds, stick with the red one.

It is also available in yellow, white and orange though these colors are harder to find.

In its native Mexico, R. equisetiformis can grow into an 8 foot shrub. I rarely see one taller than 3 feet here in Florida.

Propagating Firecracker Plants

Firecracker plant in a pot in Market Square in Savannah.

Firecracker plant spilling out of a pot along side an Areca palm and a cast iron plant in Market Square in Savannah, GA.

This is easy. They self-sow freely. Simply move the volunteers to new spots or pot them up.

Alternatively, you may take soft wood cuttings.

Plants tend to decline with age. At this time you should start new plants to replace the weak ones.



Red Flowers To Make Your Plantings Pop:

Dichelostemma ida-maia, the Hardy Perennial Firecracker Flower

Tender Tropical Sage

Pentas lanceolata, the Egyptian Star Flower

The Abraham Lincoln Rose: an American Classic

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