Crossandra

Crossandra infundibuliformis, the firecracker flower, is a species of flowering plant in the family Acanthaceae, native to southern India and Sri Lanka, favoring tropical and humid conditions, but can be mixed with other sun-loving plants in annual North American gardens. It is most often found in south Indian region Malenadu and Kerala.



Flower colours range from the common orange to salmon-orange or apricot, coral to red, yellow and even turquoise. Crossandra Red Plant, Kanakambaram and is also known as the Firecracker flower. They bloom throughout the year. It is offered as garlands to Gods and deities in Temples.


Table of Contents


Height(Avg)

1 to 3 feet


Width-Circumference (Avg)

1 to 2 feet


Approximate pH

5.8 - 6.5


Types of Crossandra


While nearly 50 species of crossandra exist in the wild, there's only one common species in the garden industry: Crossandra undulifolia (also sold as Crossandra infundibuliformis). That said, horticulturalists have introduced some color variations of this species. Favorites include:


  • Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Mona Wallhead' is a tropical shrub that features salmon-pink flowers and grows to a mature height of 12 to 18 inches. This cultivated variety is cold-hardy, withstanding temperatures no lower than 32 F.

  • Otherwise known as " yellow crossandra," Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Lutea' bears rich, golden flowers and performs well in containers, where it blooms from spring until the first frost.

  • Crossandra infundibuliformis 'Orange Marmalade' boasts excellent disease and pest resistance, and is a consistent performer, showing its bright orange flowers all season long. When used as a houseplant, this cultivar is known to bloom year-round.


Growing Crossandra


From Seed


Crossandra blooms approximately four months after sprouting, so it's best to start seeds indoors in late winter or early spring. To do so, first, broadcast seeds across a seed starting tray, and then cover them with a sprinkling of soil. Keep the soil moist by misting it regularly with a spray bottle full of water. You can also provide a heat mat to maintain warm temperatures for sprouting. Once sprouted, divide the plants into individual pots and continue growing them inside in a bright window, out of direct light, until outdoor temperatures warm. Plant them into your garden bed when temperatures reach 55 F or higher.


Potting and Repotting Crossandra


Crossandra plant is fussy and can easily succumb to transplant shock, so repot it only when necessary. For best results, repot crossandra once every three years, as this plant actually grows well, even when rootbound for several years. Twenty-four hours before repotting, give your plant a good drink of water. Select a clay or terracotta pot that is approximately two inches bigger than its current container, and then line the pot with small pebbles to ensure ample drainage. Next, carefully remove your plant from its old container and place it in the new one, backfilling with rich organic soil that contains perlite. Water it again, and return it to the same growing spot.


Overwintering


Most gardeners treat crossandra as an annual, only keeping it until its blooming season is over, and then discarding it. If you choose to overwinter your plant, however, don't necessarily expect it to bloom indoors year-round, as most varieties of this plant will go through a period of dormancy. Simply, water the plant enough so that it maintains moist soil, and then wait for spring. Come spring, cut off any dead growth, and then move your crossandra into a slightly bigger container with fresh soil. Provide plenty of indirect, bright light for the transplant to help it adjust.


Crossandra Care


Crossandra is among the few plants that provide months of lovely blooms with indirect sunlight, making it especially valuable when paired with other shade-tolerant plants. For color, add it to a bed that includes ​impatiens, coleus, and shrimp plant. Outdoors, crossandra will provide long-lasting flowers from late spring to autumn under the right conditions. Make sure to provide moderate moisture and high humidity levels, and protect it from cold temperatures and drafts. Enhance your plant's blooms by periodically removing old and dying flowers (deadheading) during the growing season.


Crossandra can also be kept as a houseplant, where its needs are similar. Indoor care may require placing the plant on a tray filled with pebbles and water, and misting it regularly in dry climates or during the dry winter.

Light & Temperature

Partial shade is perfect for your fire cracker plants. Bright, indirect sunlight is the preferred lighting style. While it can take occasional direct sunlight, it can get burned by very hot sun.


Indoor growers may find that a quality grow light will help them ensure good lighting. Placing your plant near a bright window is also a good choice.


This plant’s quite heat-tolerant, but is sensitive to cool temperatures. Keep the temperature above 55 degrees to prevent cold damage to the leaf tips.


Water & Humidity

Avoid letting the soil completely dry out during the growing season. Consistently moist soil is important for your crossandra plant. These plants are not drought-tolerant, and as such you’ll have to make sure they have the water they crave!


Through the winter months, both indoor and outdoor growers can slow down watering. Soil moisture does not evaporate off as quickly during these time periods. Mulch around your plants to slow it down even more.


Humidity can help your plants. Indoors, an occasional light misting will keep the humidity up around your plant. Placing it on a pebble tray above water will also increase the air moisture. Outdoors, ensuring it’s well-watered and mulched will suffice.


Soil

Organically-rich, well-draining soils are best for your firecracker flower. Mixes which contain lots of compost and peat are ideal. Both of those components retain moisture while allowing excess to flow away. You can use a sandy loam soil as a base while lightening it up with peat and compost. If your soil is clay-like, break it up well to avoid large clumps and amend to keep the clay soil separated.


Fertilizer

A monthly feeding of a balanced granular fertilizer is advised for spring and summer. In fall and winter, reduce the frequency to about every other month.


If using liquid fertilizer, dilute to half-strength. Feed every two weeks during the spring and summer, and every month in the fall and winter.


Propagation

Methods of propagating crossandra include stem cuttings or seed.


Like most other cuttings, you’ll want a healthy stem tip. Cut it just below a leaf node, as the roots will develop from the node. Fresh spring growth is usually best for getting your cuttings to develop.


Dip the cut end in water, then a powdered rooting hormone before placing in prepared soil. Place your cutting on a seedling heating mat to provide bottom warmth, as this will help roots form. Wait for new growth to appear on the cutting, as this indicates it’s taken root.


Seeds can be started indoors at any time. Sprinkle your seed across prepared soil, then very lightly cover them. Keep the soil warmth high by using a heating mat, and maintain moist conditions.


Pruning

Prune your crossandra plants in the spring right before they begin active growth. This encourages the plant to develop new, healthy stems. You can use the trimmed stems for propagation if you’d like.


Pinch back firecracker flowers once they start to fade to keep the plant blooming. If you want to prevent seeds (especially indoors), cut the spikes back before seeds fully form. This keeps them from popping in your house!


Harvesting


These plants start flowering after 2-3 months of planting. Fully opened flower picking should be done on alternate days. Hand plucking can be done in the morning or late evening hours. These plants continue to bear flower throughout the year and production will be less in rainy seasons.


Pests and Diseases


Pests

While pest problems on your crossandra plants aren’t incredibly common, they do occur. They should be milder in terms of damage than on edible plants, though. Let’s go over the most common offenders and how to get rid of them should they appear.


Aphids are fairly common in all gardens, and they’ll appear on your firecracker plant as well. To prevent them, spray the plant with neem oil. An insecticidal soap will kill any stragglers.


Whiteflies are easily identifiable. If you see a bunch of tiny white bugs flying around, it’s a safe guess that eggs will be on your nearby plants. Treat as you would for aphids to get rid of these.


The long-tailed mealybug is another pest you may discover. Like other forms of scale insects, it latches onto leaves and stems. It pierces the surface and sucks the sap out. Neem is a good preventative here as well. For small infestations, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove them.


Finally, spider mites can be found both indoors and out. They too are a sucking pest, and they can cause pinpoint yellowing of leaves. For these, prevention is the easiest option. Spray your plant every 7-14 days to keep them at bay. A pyrethrin-based spray will kill any which may appear.


Diseases


Crossandras tend to be resistant to most diseases. You shouldn’t experience any major plant disease problems.


Benefits of Crossandra

  • The flower helps in treating joint pain.

  • The flower able to heal wounds.

  • The flower can treat foot crack.

  • The flower reduce the swelling in any parts

  • The flower can treat boils.

  • The leaves helps to treat swelling in mouth

Uses

  • Flower extract is used in various conditions like fever, headache, aperitif, pain and wound healing.

  • It is used as an aesthetic such as Beautification, Bouquets, Cottage Garden, Ground Cover, Hanging Basket, Landscape Designing and Showy Purposes.

  • The tiny flowers are often strung together into strands, sometimes along with white jasmine flowers and therefore in great demand for making garlands which are offered to temple deities or used to embellish women's hair.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All