Russelia equisetiformis: the firecracker plant

Let’s go to the discovery of Russelia equisetiformis, a really “explosive” plant. In fact, in fact Russellia is known mainly with its three nicknames which have a common denominator: firecracker plant, coral plant and fountain plant. What is the characteristic that unites them? All the names, particularly colored, are due to the typical cascade of red flowers for which the plant is known.
The Russelia is in fact an incredible plant, whose copious bloom has always fascinated those who came in contact with it. Native to the tropical regions of the American continent, especially the Mexican and Cuban forests, in the genus Russelia one finds several perennials, characterized by long and thin stems that fall back and can grow up to three meters. The leaves are “squamous”: they are in fact narrow and very small, so much so that the fish scales are brought to mind.
The flowers bloom since the end of winter and last almost until autumn. They are tubular, collected in isolated groups and show shades that can vary from pink to red-orange.

Cultivation and placement

The Russelia equisetiformis is an easy growing plant that does not require excessive or particular attention, but is sensitive to cold. If it is kept outdoors, during the winter, it will be transported to a sheltered place to avoid it being exposed to temperatures below 10 ° C.
It is a “solar” plant, it loves direct sunlight, except in the most torrid days of the summer, and loves the air, so it is good to make sure it is always in good ventilation.
This plant should be watered regularly during the warmer months having the foresight to wait until the soil is dry on the surface before proceeding with the next watering. As with many tropical species, during the winter, the plant requires very little watering.
The Russelia plant should be fertilized every two weeks or so, adding a little fertilizer to the water. Be careful not to overdo it: it is always advisable to reduce the doses indicated on the package which tend to be excessive.
To obtain plants that give copious bloom, particularly important for the ornamental ability of Russelia, it is better to proceed to pruning towards the end of the winter season by cutting the stems by about a third and promptly eliminating all the dry or damaged parts in order not to favor the environment for the arrival of parasitic diseases. At the end of the winter the Russelia will be repotted only in case the pot has become too small.
Given the “hanging” aspect, the Russelia must be cultivated in hanging vases or on the railings of the balconies, from which will be exposed unusual and beautiful flowers during the hottest time of the year.

Diseases and remedies

The Russelia equisetiformis is a very resistant plant: it is in fact not subject to diseases, even if they are not unusual infestations by mites and aphids. How to identify them? If you notice small, light-colored, moving insects, you will certainly find them in the presence of aphids, also commonly known as lice. To leave no room for doubt, just look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with a photo: their shape makes them unmistakable. To avoid possible damaging water stagnations, create the ideal environment by mixing in equal parts a good soil, peat and coarse sand in order to promote water drainage.

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