How to Grow Firespike Plants

These Showy Flowers Are Attractive to Pollinators

Firespike plants in garden

Barry Winiker / Getty Images

 

Are you looking for a large, eye-catching plant to fill your garden with some color as well as attract hummingbirds and butterflies? Then the firespike may be just the plant you are looking for.

These showy shrubs boast glossy, long, dark green leaves that can each be up to eight inches long. Bursting from this foliage are purple stems with long, glossy red flowers. The shape of these flowers is unconventional, but the look is stunning.

These shrubs are best planted in the spring as they beginning blooming in late summer well into the winter, as long as they are not killed off from frost. If you live somewhere without the dangers of frost, this beautiful plant may just bloom all year round.

Botanical Name Odontonema strictum
Common Name Crocodile fern
Plant Type Houseplant or perennial
Mature Size 2 to 5 feet tall and wide
Sun Exposure Bright, indirect late to shade
Soil Type Rich, moist, well-draining
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Not Applicable
Flower Color Not Applicable
Hardiness Zones 10 to 11
Native Area Southeast Asia and Australia
Firespike flower in detail
Barry Winiker / Getty Images
Firespike flower attracts butterflies
Firespike flowers are a popular draw for butterflies dossyl / Getty Images

How to Grow Firespike

Firespike plants are a breeze to care if you can offer the right conditions. Naturally found in tropical climates, these plants love hot weather and plenty of water.

Firespikes can grow in partial shade as well as full sun. They like rich soil, but can also grow in a sandy medium. And, if you forget to irrigate them and find your firespike looking a little droopy, a good watering will bring them back to life. On top of this, there are not any common pests or diseases that cause much trouble for this plant.

These shrubs can grow anywhere from four feet to eight feet and beyond. They make a wonderful addition to cutting and butterfly gardens. Because of their size, they also make great backdrops to smaller plants.

Light

Firespikes love sunshine. Naturally found in tropical environments, these plants thrive in bright light.

Unlike most plants, firespikes will still bloom in the shade. For more blooms and a healthier plant, however, more sunshine is best.

Soil

This plant isn't fussy when it comes to soil pH levels. For optimum growth, however, firespikes like rich, well-draining soils. Sandy soils will also be tolerated. Compost-based soil is a great option for extra nutrients that will keep your firespike healthy and blooming.

Water

Keeping your firespike well-watered is important because these plants depend on plenty of moisture. Keep it consistent and, if you live in a dry area, water daily. If you forgot for a day or so and see the plant wilting, don’t panic. Firespikes are hardy, and will most likely be just fine after a good drink.

Keeping a layer of mulch on the soil around your plant will help retain moisture and keep the soil from drying out too quickly.

Temperature and Humidity

Native to Mexico and Central America, these plants love hot weather and moderate to high humidity. Firespikes are very hardy when it comes to hot temperatures, but not so much with cold temperatures.

It can survive in areas with light frost, but heavy frost will kill it. In areas with light frost, you will see blooms in late summer until the frost comes. For areas without frost, your firespike could bloom all year long.

Fertilizer

This plant is easy-going and doesn’t need any specific fertilizers. A general, well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer is ideal. Fertilizing in the spring to encourage fresh, healthy growth and blooms should be enough, but you can fertilize up to three times in a year.

Propagating Firespike

Going along with its overall easy-going personality, the firespike is very simple to propagate from cuttings. Here’s how:

1. Trim a clipping off of your firespike, preferably on a softwood branch.

2. Trim leaves off of the bottom half of the cutting.

3. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone.

4. Plant with the cut side down where you would like your new plant to grow.

That’s it. These plants root extremely easily, so you’ll have another plant in no time.

Pruning

Again, firespike makes for a low-maintenance addition in your garden and you won't need to invest a lot of time in regular pruning or maintenance. Occasional pruning is all that is needed since some branches can get long, unruly, or gangly looking. Give them a snip whenever you feel like your plant needs a little haircut.

If you live in an area with light frost, prune your firespike to the ground in the spring once the danger of frost is gone. This will encourage fresh, healthy growth from the plant’s base. For areas without frost, simply cut the flowering stems to the ground when they are done blooming.