Firespike is a herbaceous perennial. This means it will die back to ground level at the end of the growing season, which for those of us in Central Florida is generally winter. However, so far this year, ours are still growing and flowering strong.
This plant produces spikes of tubular red flowers from fall through winter. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The leaves are a shiny dark green that make the red flower spikes even more pronounced.
Firespike has medium drought tolerance, and low to no salt tolerance, and it needs well-drained soil moisture. It can reach a height of 2 to 6 feet and a spread of 2 to 3 feet. It tolerates soil pH that is slightly acid to slightly alkaline, 6.0 to 7.2, and prefers full sun for heavy blooming, but it also does well in partial shade. Propagation is from cuttings or division.
We have this plant in our perennial garden, where it is showcased in a fence corner. It creates a great presence in mass plantings and as cut flowers in containers. Pests and disease are not a major concern.
For information about this plant, please see the University of Florida publication from which this article was adapted, “Odontonema strictum Firespike” by Edward F. Gilman and Terry Delvalle, at http://edis.ifas .ufl.edu/fp445.
This week I’m giving away firespike plants from my home landscape to the first three people who email me at [email protected] If you won plants or seeds in past contests, please don’t enter so others can win, too. If you do win, you will receive an email from me. You will need to pick up your plant at the Extension office in Seffner, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. If driving to Seffner is too far for you to come, please don’t enter. Good luck!
The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden is one of several demonstration gardens at the UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Service, 5339 County Road 579, Seffner.