Grow Your Own Firecracker Plant - A Guide to Keeping this Perennial Happy - Absolute Gardener

Grow Your Own Firecracker Plant – A Guide to Keeping this Perennial Happy

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Firecracker Plant

It’s firecracker plant season! If you’re not sure what firecracker plants are, don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a second. First, let’s talk about why firecracker plants are so awesome and how they make your garden pop.

Firecrackers have a compact shape with very showy flowers on tall stems, which means that even when the leaves die back in winter, the firecracker plant can still be seen from afar as it stands out against the snow-covered ground. Gardeners and plant lovers can sometimes find it difficult to care for firecracker plants. To help, we created a firecracker plant care guide that is easily personalized to fit your needs!

What is Firecracker Plant?

Firecracker Plant is also known as Russelia equisetiform is a perennial firework that provides mass amounts of firecracker or gasps. It grows to about five feet tall and has leaves with silver-white streaks on them. Firecrackers are usually pink, purple, red, orange and yellowish-white in colour which makes this plant eye-catching during the fall season. Firecracker Plant is also known as firecrackers, firecracker plant and silver fire.

It can be found in the eastern North America region during the winter months. The flower stem will grow up to three feet tall and it produces flowers that are white or pink with a tube-shaped corolla that looks like firework explosions.

Firecracker Plant leaves don’t seem to be fire-resistant at all; they’re quite flammable but not very impressive in the garden as a firebreak or for putting out fires of any kind. So unless your house is on fire you might want to keep firecracker shrub out of the garden.

Firecracker Plant

Origins of Firecracker Plant Plant

The firecracker plant, firecracker flower, firefly plant is perennial in the borage family (Boraginaceae) native to Eastern Asia. The name firecracker comes from its flowers that are shaped like firework fireworks and often have bright colours resembling them too. In China, it’s called “huoyao” because the firecracker flower typically blooms in the same season as China’s firework festival.

The Russelia equisetiformis firecracker plant is a popular perennial because it does not need too much care and thrives in most conditions. Fireworks-shaped flowers bloom sporadically throughout summer, which makes firecracker plants excellent for cut bouquet arrangements or just to enjoy as a living decoration.

There are two firecracker varieties: common firecracker plant and Chinese firecracker plant, which is also known as “huoyao.” The most popular variety of firecracker plants in the United States is called ‘Catherine’s Wheel’ because its flowers resemble Catherine wheels from old-fashioned fireworks.

Firecracker Plant Care Guide

If the firecracker plant has been in your garden for a while, it’s time to take some steps. Spring is the perfect time to rejuvenate firecracker plants and get them ready for the summer season. Follow these simple tips below on russelia equisetiformis care.


Firecracker plants are not very picky about their soil preferences. They can grow in clay, sandy or loam soils and don’t require much fertilizer to be happy. The firecracker plant’s pH preference is neutral but they will still thrive with a wide range of different pH levels

However, firecrackers do need acidic soils for the firecrackers’ flowers to develop and be fertile. If your firecracker plant lives in alkaline soil there is no need to worry, they will still thrive but their flower petals might not have as much colour.

You should mix the firecracker plant’s potting media with one-third compost, about one tablespoon of dolomitic lime per gallon (this will raise the pH levels), and some decomposed granite or gravel to help prevent water from draining too quickly.


A firecracker plant is a perennial and thrives on plenty of light, so place it in an area with direct sun exposure. In the winter months when there are fewer hours of sunlight or less intense sunshine, be sure to supplement firecracker plants’ needs by using artificial lighting. Fluorescent lights work well for providing low-level light.

The firecracker plant doesn’t need to be in a windowless room, but it does need low-intensity fluorescent lights or other artificial lighting during winter months when there’s less sunlight than usual. Firecrackers also can grow well with only indirect natural light for short periods of time and will not need to be relocated as long as they are shaded from direct sunlight.


Watering firecracker plants is a very important part of the care process. Once firecracker plants have been established, they are actually quite drought tolerant and will only require watering every now and then when in soil that holds water well. Firecrackers can be watered with plain old tap water or rainwater collected from the roof, gutters or downspouts.

It is important to water firecrackers when they are in pots and containers to prevent the roots from becoming too dry. The best time of day for watering firecrackers depends on your climate zone; if you live in a humid area that has plenty of rainfall, firecrackers will need more frequent watering.

In areas that have drier climates, firecracker plants should be watered only when the soil is dry to the touch or if it has not rained in a few days. It is also important to water firecrackers often during the winter months in regions that receive a lot of snowfall, because firecrackers need moist soil and will suffer if they are deprived of this moisture for too long.


Firecracker plants love the heat. Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are usually not a problem for the firecracker plant. In fact, the firecracker plant can take up to 40 degrees Celsius temperatures with ease! Be careful though – firecrackers don’t do well in cold climates and will likely freeze if they’re exposed long enough to temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius. Keep firecrackers away from air conditioners as these will dry out their leaves quickly.


Humidity is a firecracker’s best friend. Because firecrackers grow in hot, dry climates this can be difficult to maintain indoors for the winter months when you want them to stay dormant and stop flowering. They thrive when surrounded by at least 50% humidity.

One of the key ways to increase humidity levels inside your home is with a pebble tray. Fill a shallow dish with pebbles, then pour water over them. The moisture will evaporate and increase humidity levels in your firecracker’s environment.


Fertiliser is a crucial component to firecracker plant’s resilience. If it goes without for too long, firecracker plants will brown and eventually die off. The type of fertiliser you use will depend on the soil composition in your garden: if your firecracker plant grows in acidic or alkaline soils then you’ll need to use a fertiliser with the same properties.

There is a great range of firecracker plant fertilisers to choose from, and there’s one for every kind of gardener. Liquid fertiliser can be applied directly on firecracker plants’ soil or in wet periods when water-soluble nutrients are necessary; granular ones are to be applied on firecracker plants’ surface, and slow-release fertilisers are perfect for firecracker plant’s growing periods.

Some firecracker plant fertilizers can also help to improve the soil quality: they may suppress weeds or even stop fungal diseases, bacteria and nematodes that attack firecracker plants.

What firecracker plant fertilisers will you use?

  • Liquid fertiliser: it can be applied on firecracker plants’ soil or in wet periods when water-soluble nutrients are necessary. It’s easy to apply and they don’t have any unpleasant smell, so people who’re sensitive to smells should pick this option.
  • Granular firecracker plant fertilisers: they’re applied on firecracker plants’ surface and are perfect for firecracker plant’s growing periods. They will help firecracker plants grow in a healthy manner, but it might take some time to see the result of using this type of fertiliser.
  • Slow-release firecracker plant fertilisers: this type of firecracker plant fertiliser is perfect for firecracker plants’ growing periods, because they release nutrients slowly and consistently. If you can’t remember to water your firecrackers every day or two then using slow-release will ensure that the soil has enough moisture until it’s time to water again.
  • Super firecracker plant fertiliser: this type of firecracker plant fertilizer is great for people who don’t have time to take care of firecrackers plants, because it’s really easy and quick to use. The downside is that super firecracker plant fertilisers can be quite expensive, so they’re not for firecracker plant beginners.
  • Organic firecracker plant fertilisers: some people might want to use organic firecracker plant fertiliser because they don’t like the idea of using chemicals on plants. The downside is that it can take a while before you see any results from these products, and there’s always an increased risk of firecrackers becoming diseased.


Firecracker Plant can be toxic to dogs, cats and horses. This is because firecracker plants contain a chemical called saponin which acts as an emetic; it makes animals throw up whatever they have recently eaten. The effect of this toxin on humans has not been studied yet but the plant may cause irritation in eyes if touched.


Pruning firecracker plants is absolutely necessary in order to keep the plant healthy. The firecracker plant’s flowers are actually clusters of small, fragrant bell-like blooms that grow on spikes from long stems that can reach up to four feet tall. Pruning firecrackers will help manage growth and keep firecracker plants in a tidy, manageable shape.

Firecrackers can be pruned at any time of the year and should be cut back to a height that is five or six inches from the ground. If you are just trimming up your firecracker plant for winter, take off about one-third of its growth, cutting any branches that are longer than six inches.

If firecracker plants become too leggy, cut them back to a height of about 20 inches from the ground and they will resume their usual bushy shape in spring. Firecrackers can also be pruned before winter to promote new growth early next year by removing all but about two or three inches of the firecracker’s new growth.

Another way to prune firecrackers is by removing some branches from a cluster of firecracker flowers, which will cause more blooms to grow on other stems in its place. This technique can be used when you notice your firecracker plant has too many long, leggy stems and needs to be cut back.

When firecrackers are grown in pots, they should also be trimmed by removing one-third of their growth at a time or pruned as needed to maintain the desired size and shape.

Propagation and Growth

Firecracker plant propagation is easy if you have a few spare seeds. If not, firecracker plants can be propagated by taking cuttings from the ends of new shoots in early winter and then planting them into pots or trays with moist compost. The seedlings should start to appear within six weeks.

There is one important point to note when propagating firecracker plants, and that’s the difference between male and female firecracker plant cuttings. Male firecracker plants will have a smaller number of flowers than female firecrackers, but it can be difficult for new growers to tell them apart until they flower in the following year.

The firecrackers also have male and female flowers on different plants, so it is important to take cuttings from the right plant in order for your firecracker plant propagations to grow into healthy flowering shrubs.

Male firecracker:

  • Has fewer flowers than a female firecracker
  • Flowers are more yellow than female firecracker flowers

Female firecracker:

  • Has more flowers than a male firecracker
  • Flowers are redder and brighter in colour.

Male firecrackers (left) have fewer, less colourful flowers while females (right) produce plenty of larger blooms and their flowers are more red. The firecracker flower pollen is sticky and firecrackers need a suitable pollinator to get the pollen from male firecrackers onto female firecrackers.


So your firecracker plant is outgrowing the pot? No problem! Firecrackers are really easy plants to repot. This process can be done as soon as they’re showing signs of overcrowding, which could happen in about a month for some fire crackers. Let’s get started:

  • Place a small pot with drainage holes at the bottom of your firecracker plant. Fill it about halfway up to an inch below the rim with soil that is specifically made for fire crackers or most any other perennials, like cactus and succulents.
  • Add more soil until you’ve reached the top of the firecracker plant’s root ball.
  • Pat the soil down gently with your fingers or a spoon to make sure it is packed tight and there are no air pockets. Add more potting mix if necessary until you’ve reached about an inch below the rim of the firecracker plant’s new container. Mist in thoroughly, using room temperature water.
  • Be sure to move the firecracker plant into its new pot carefully so as not to disturb or disrupt any of the roots that are in there. Water thoroughly after you’ve finished, and make sure it has been soaked for about ten minutes before watering again. You’ll want to keep this firecracker out of direct sunlight for about a week, which will give it time to regenerate.

Plant Disease

If firecracker plant has a lot of leaves with red blotches or spots, then it could be a sign of fireblight. Fire blight can also cause lesions on the stems and fruit that are brown to black in colour. The best treatment for fire blight is prevention by keeping your plants dry, well-ventilated, and away from fire blight hosts. If fire blight is present, isolate your plant and cut off any diseased parts of the stem with a clean blade or pruning shears

If the firecracker plant starts to yellowish between the veins in its leaves it could be due to iron deficiency. To remedy this problem, make an infusion using comfrey root and dandelion root.

Mildew can also affect firecracker plant if conditions are not right such as high humidity or too much shade. This is easily remedied by spraying firecracker with a mixture of water and dish soap, use caution though because this could kill the firecracker plant if used too often

Firecracker Plant Variegated

Firecracker Plant Variegated is a perennial shrub that thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. It does best when grown as an annual or container plant, but firecracker variegated can also be dug up year after year to rejuvenate the roots. This firecracker variety should grow about three feet tall and wide.

The firecracker plant is not a typical variety of firework, but it does share many qualities with its namesake–fiery red blooms that light up surrounding plants in the late summertime garden. The firecracker variegated shares these traits with fire cracker primrose (Oenothera speciosa), a firecracker plant that features the same bright red blooms, but with golden yellow edges.

The firecracker variegated is a great choice for many gardeners because it performs well in both clay and sandy soils–and as an added bonus, fire cracker primroses are resistant to powdery mildew!

Common Issues with Firecracker Plant

Firecracker plants are often affected by pests such as spider mites or aphids. In the case of the firecracker plant, you will want to spray with a strong water and soap mixture which should kill any bugs on contact. Removing the infected leaves is also an option that can be done in addition to spraying them off.

The firecracker plant is often a victim of overwatering. If you notice that the leaves are starting to droop and turn brown, then it may be time for more water. You want to keep in mind that firecracker plants like moist soil but do not appreciate standing water sitting on their roots.

In order to ensure firecracker plants are also getting enough water, you can do a quick test of the soil. The firecracker plant thrives in moist but not wet soils so if your firecracker is drooping and turning brown then it may be time to increase watering levels.

Tips for Keeping Firecracker Plant Happy

The firecracker plant doesn’t need much care so it’s good for first-time gardeners who don’t want anything too time-consuming! Here are some tips!

Tip #01: firecracker plant likes lots of sunlight.

Tip #02: firecracker plants need moderate water. Don’t overwater or underwater too much.

Tip #03: firecracker plants like to be planted in an area with well-draining soil and not a lot of rainfall, ideally in full sun.

Tip #04: firecracker plants are drought and pest tolerant so they can be planted in a neglected area of the garden or even on an embankment as long as it doesn’t get too much rainfall, which would cause erosion.

Tip #05: firecracker plant needs well-drained soil and moderate watering.

Tip #06: firecracker plant likes to be planted in a container, so it can be moved around and planted outside during summer months.

Tip #07: firecracker plants are good for beginners because they don’t need any special attention or care!

Firecracker Plant Frequently Asked Questions

How do you care for a firecracker plant?

Grow firecracker plants in a moderate temperature environment. The firecracker plant prefers wet soil and can be grown inside or outside, so long as it is not too cold. Water firecracker plants about once per week with rainwater or distilled water; do not use tap water because the chlorine will kill them. Feed firecracker plants with a water soluble fertilizer once every two weeks.

Is a firecracker plant a perennial?

The firecracker plant is a perennial that you can grow in your garden. It has striking foliage with pink and purple markings, as well as fire-red flowers.

##Is firecracker plant invasive?

Firecracker plant is not invasive. It does not grow well in wet soils and if it gets too much water, firecracker plants will drop their flowers.

Can you prune a firecracker plant?

Yes, firecracker plant generally has low foliage so it is a good candidate for pruning. It’s best to wait until after the firecrackers have taken off in early summer before deciding on whether or not you want a more compact shape and size. Trim back any deadwood that may be hanging over with some very sharp secateurs.

Is firecracker plant toxic?

Some firecracker plant species are toxic, but the firecracker plants that people grow in their gardens (Pyrostegia venusta) are not. Pyrostegias have a tropical look and make great houseplants for indoors or outdoors.

Are firecracker plants poisonous?

Firecracker plants are not poisonous to humans. However, firecrackers can be toxic if ingested by cats and dogs because they have a high concentration of saponins that make it difficult for their kidneys to properly function. It’s also important to keep firecrackers away from pets as the entire plant is prickly and has sharp points that can cause them to get hurt.


There are lots of firecrackers plant varieties available in nurseries and garden centres throughout the year so you can pick one that suits your liking! Some common firecracker plant species include: ‘Peach Glow’, “Dynamite™”, ‘Nana’, ‘Peppermint’, and “Silver Lining”. Growing firecracker plants is easy but it’s important to take care of them just like any other perennial.

If you have a firecracker plant in your garden or home, keep these tips in mind to make sure the firecracker plant stays healthy and happy! Whether it’s a yellow firecracker plant you have or a red, or orange, count on them to add colour to your garden.

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Firecracker Plant

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