Odontonema strictum or Firespike is native to Central America. It is an attractive, compact shrub that will reach 6 feet (~2 meters) in nature and about 3 feet (~1 meter) in containers. It has oblong leaves that are 6 inches (15 cm) long. When used as a shrub or patio plant it is a great hummingbird attractor. They are hardy in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming Time: In the fall, abundant 1-inch tubular, bright red, waxy flowers adorn the plant in 12-inch spikes. Very showy!
Culture: Odontonema strictum do best if planted in partial shade with a rich well-drained soil. We grow ours under 52% shade all year, with a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants should be kept moist during the growing season and fertilized on a weekly basis if grown in containers. In the winter months in the greenhouse, plants are only watered enough to keep them from wilting. In the spring, you should cut the plant back to encourage branching and the production of new shoots.
Propagation: Odontonema strictum are propagated by cutting in spring.
Odontonema strictum was featured as Plant of the Week September 20-26, 2002.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.