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Growing Together, Issue #95
December 27, 2014

Firecracker Plant A Virbrant Tropical Specimen

Welcome to the December issue of landscape solutions for you, Growing Together newsletter. We would like to welcome our new members, and as always, each of you returning with Herbee and I each month. Isn't it hard to believe that 2014 is drawing to a close. This month we wanted to share with you a member of the tropical family, the Firecracker Plant.

Firecracker Plant With Red Tubular Flowers

The Firecracker Plant is considered a tropical evergreen that grows well in zones nine through eleven. If those aren't your zones, don't worry. The plant first caught on as an indoor specimen, and is sometimes used as an annual in cooler zones.

Herbee calls the Firecracker Plant a fat shrub, because it's wider than its height of one to four feet at maturity. But don't misunderstand him. Herbee loves this specimen because it has so many beautiful red, tubular shaped flowers. The green leaves are long and slender. The branches hang, giving a weeping appearance.

It does well in full sun and well drained soil. In tropical climates, where the Firecracker grows larger, it's used around foundations, for colorful hedges, or as an accent plant. In cooler climates it can be seen as a border of annual plants.

Herbee Greenthumb

Here is one of Herbee Greenthumb's tips for you: "If you're using the Firecracker Plant in a zone that gets frost, be sure to wait to plant until well into the Spring, when the threat of frost is over. You can sow seeds, however, if you're using plants, pinch off the tips to encourage growth."

If you live in a tropical zone, you really end up with a small shrub, as wide as twelve feet. Beware, this specimen can be slightly invasive, as it sends out runner roots, and branches root easily when touching the ground..

If you've never used the Firecracker Plant, consider starting with a container. Another option is a hanging basket, which can be very striking, with the weeping structure and all the red flowers. Remember, if you have the room, the Firecracker plant is a great enhancement to a informal garden or landscape area.

Tip For The Month

For those in the northern hemisphere, you're now into winter. Many people that live in a zone where the ground does not freeze, don't realize that this is an excellent time for planting many shrubs and trees. While you don't see much growth, if any, above ground, the roots are taking hold and the plant is adapting to its new environment, without the stress of summer heat.

For those in the southern hemisphere, you're approaching the hottest part of the year. Make sure you properly water your gardens and landscape, especially if you did new plantings this growing season. For most living plants, a long, deep watering is better than a light, frequent, "tease" of water.

Thought For The Month

Tom and I have just had our first Christmas with Herbee. He's fascinated with the growth of our grandchildren, that are now 18 and 17 months old.

It is a special time of the year, with people around the world celebrating many different holidays. There is much excitement in the air, and hope for new and better things to come for our families and friends.

As we move into the new year, many of us have New Year's Resolutions. Consider a resolution around gardening. Maybe it's planting seeds ahead of time, indoors, making plugs for your gardens. Maybe it's trying something new, like the Firecracker Plant. What ever it may be, make sure it's something you really want to do and can do.

Have a Happy New Year. Stay safe and healthy. We look forward to being with you again in another month. Thanks again for being with us.

Herbee and Kimberly
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