Group of about 50 plants native to Cuba, Mexico, and Central America. Prized for colorful flowers produced nearly continuously in warm weather. The two species listed below are the most common; both look great billowing over the top of a retaining wall, massed on a slope, or used in raised planters and hanging baskets. Provide well-drained soil. Propagate by taking cuttings, layering branches that touch the ground, or divid- ing. Can be grown indoors in a sunny window. During active growth, water moderately and feed monthly with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer; then reduce water and fertilizer in winter.
R. equisetiformis. FIRECRACKER PLANT. Suckering shrub to 34 ft. tall and wide, with cascading, wiry, nearly leafless bright green stems. Blooms all summer, with side branches bearing a profusion of tubular bright red flowers resembling 1-in.-long firecrackers. Hardy to about 24F; comes back quickly if cut down by mild frost. A yellow-flowered form is available.
R. sarmentosa. CORAL PLANT. Often confused with R. equisetiformis, but stems are leafy and floral display is even showier. Grows about 4 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. Abundant clusters of small bright red flowers nearly hide the oval, 3-in.-long leaves. Not as hardy as R. equisetiformis.