En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Firecracker plants not growing in Ft. Worth

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Wednesday - June 09, 2010

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders
Title: Firecracker plants not growing in Ft. Worth
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Fort Worth, TX and last fall planted several firecracker plants. It's now June and they're not growing. How can I tell if they are still alive?

ANSWER:

The first thing we have to do is figure out what plant we are dealing with. The common names, as opposed to the scientific names, often cause confusion when questions are asked. And sometimes we are asked about plant names we do not recognize because they are "trade names," probably thought up by the plant retailer to make the plant more sellable. The common name "firecracker plant" resulted in no hits on our Native Plant Database.

We then searched on the Internet; first we got this Floridata website  Russellia equisetiformis. This apparently is usually referred to as Coral Plant, is native to Mexico and hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 12.

Howstuffworks calls Cuphea ignea, also native to Mexico, Firecracker Plant and refers to it as an annual or tender perennial, which makes a good house plant.

Gardening Central had an article about Firecracker Plant , in which the scientific name was never given. It also was called an annual, hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11.

This University of Arkansas Horticulture article Cuphea ignea refers to it as a semi-woody plant, also called cigar plant.

Another Floridata article, this one titled Cuphea ignea says it is a sub-shrub hardy in Zones 10-12.

So, we still don't know which one you have, but they all have two things in common: They are non-native to North America and to Texas and they are hardy from USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 12 or 10 to 12. Fort Worth seems to be in Zone 7b, which means it was too cold for those plants to over-winter outside. Some of them might have had their roots survive and come back out this Spring. However, North Texas had a really rough winter, with lots of ice, sudden freezes and extended cold periods. Our feeling is that if they have not begun to emerge from the roots by now, they are probably not going to. If you should decide you want to replant you need either to put them in pots and bring them into a sheltered spot in the Winter, or cover the roots with mulch and the whole plant with fabric if extreme cold is predicted, or try a plant native to your area that is more accustomed to Texas climates, soils and rainfall.

Pictures of Russellia equisetiformis from Google

Pictures of Cuphea ignea from Google. 

 

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Rust-colored spots on Lantana?
June 05, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Cibolo TX and my lantana plants are about 3 years old. They have done exceedingly well until this spring. The leaves have developed brown, rust colored spots and the le...
view the full question and answer

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Ailing Lacey oak in Austin
August 09, 2010 - I have a five-year-old lacey oak that is about 5 feet tall. Last last spring it became infected with oak phylloxera, which was initially misdiagnosed. I treated it with Neem oil several time but this ...
view the full question and answer

Leaf burn on hydrangeas
July 11, 2008 - What causes my leaves to burn on my healthy hydrangeas?
view the full question and answer

Dry browning leaves on Monterrey Oak from San Antonio
August 08, 2013 - I have a Monterey Oak that was planted four years ago and was doing great until the last two weeks. It has turned brown and the ends of the branches are very dry and brittle. The root flare was cov...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center