En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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 Non-Natives Questions

Removing non-native plants appearing in Austin in early spring
March 14, 2012 - In order to know which plants to keep and which to remove, is there a source to look up and identify common non-native plants that are seen in Austin about this time of the year (late winter, early Sp...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of poinsettias in water from Houston
September 06, 2013 - Pointsettias - we have a broken branch that is thriving in a jar of water with new leaves and additional small branches. When we plant the stem in dirt and even a muck, the growth starts to wither. ...
view the full question and answer

Transplant time for small smoke tree from Battle Ground WA
June 01, 2014 - When do I transplant a smoke tree that is still young, about a foot high? It is too close to a fence, which I fear will be a problem as it gets big. I live in Battle Ground, WA which is zone 6.
view the full question and answer

Identification of red lily-like blossom in Austin, TX
September 21, 2012 - Rain at last in Austin! The rain lilies are up, but wait, what on earth is this? Lily like, 6 petals, but a cluster of 6 stalks w/blood red blooms slightly larger than our rain lilies - Off under a ...
view the full question and answer

Damage to plants after sudden freeze in Redway CA
January 02, 2010 - I live on the North Coast of California near "The Avenue of the Giants" and Redwoods State Park along the Eel River. We recently have had below freezing weather, constant rain and even snow! I have...
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