How To Grow And Care For Crossandra (Firecracker Flower)

Learn how to grow the "firecracker flower."

Crossandra (Crossandra infundibuliformis) is a tropical, evergreen shrub native to Asia. It grows about two feet tall and wide indoors and outdoors. Its near-continuous blooming sends spear-shaped spikes above its glossy, deep-green foliage in mild, warm weather. Known as the "firecracker flower," fans of showy blooms emerge from these spears, starting at the bottom and moving to the top, creating horizontal stacks of petals. Bright orange is the most common color, but you'll also find coral, peach, and even yellow blossoms.

Native to Asia, specifically India and Sri Lanka, Crossandra prefers humid environments and will bloom throughout the seasons, and is excellent for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms.

Plant Attributes

Plant Attributes
 Common Name:  Crossandra, Firecracker Flower
 Botanical Name:  Crossandra infundibuliformis
 Family:  Acanthaceae
 Plant Type:  Perennial, Annual, Shrub
 Mature Size:  1-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide
 Sun Exposure:  Partial
 Soil Type:  Loamy, Well-drained
 Soil pH:  Acidic (5.8 to 6.5)
 Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer, Fall
 Flower Color:  Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow
 Hardiness Zones:  Zones 9-11 (USDA)
 Native Area:  Asia

Crossandra Care

Crossandra grows well in containers. Give it light shade and moist, well-drained, fertile soil. Do not let it dry out—water whenever leaves start to flag. Crossandra is a vigorous grower—roots often crowd in a pot after a year. Repot into a larger container using fresh potting soil in spring. 

It won't take frost, but moving it inside to a bright window for winter will keep it blooming. Pinch off spent flower spikes to keep new ones coming. Feed every three weeks with a liquid fertilizer according to label directions. In frost-free areas like South Florida, people often plant Crossandra as perennial bedding with other shade lovers like 'Angel Wing' begoniasimpatienscaladiums, and coleus. Cease feeding Crossandra indoors in the winter. If you are okay with buying new plants every spring, you can do the same in colder climates too. Pests seldom bother it outdoors. Indoors, watch for aphids and mites on the leaves.


Crossandra thrives in partial sunlight for at least four hours daily when growing outside. Dappled sunlight, or sunlight streaming through a tree's canopy, can help shield the plant from the harsh afternoon heat. When growing Crossandra indoors, place the plant in bright, indirect sunlight. During the winter, provide Crossandra will plenty of indirect or artificial light.


Plant Crossandra in well-draining soil that's moist but not soggy. In the garden, choose loamy soil or amend the ground with peat or organic matter to assist with drainage. When growing in containers, choose potting soil with perlite or nutrient-rich soil. Balance the soil's pH with a balanced fertilizer to keep it slightly acidic.


Water Crossandra when the soil is dry—use your hands to feel the top few inches. Add a tray filled with pebbles when growing in containers to help drainage and prevent the plant from sitting in water. Crossandra likes humid conditions, so mist with a water bottle, especially during winter, but perennial plants need less water during the colder months. Avoid using too cold water because it can shock the roots of this tropical plant.

Temperature and Humidity

Crossandra prefers warm, humid environments similar to its native Asia. Avoid starting plants when temperatures are below 55°F or when frost is present. Aim for climates that stay between 70°F to 75°F during the day when growing outdoors. Increase humidity for indoor plants using a tray of pebbles or misting with a water bottle.


Fertilize Crossandra monthly—every three to four weeks—during the spring and summer growing seasons with a balanced, granular, liquid fertilizer. Reduce feedings in the winter by half—once every two months.

Types of Crossandra

Crossandra has several varieties and cultivars that offer bright-colored tropical plants in red, orange, pink, and yellow shades. Here are a few types to know: 

  • 'Orange Marmalade' Crossandra: This flowering shrub features vivid orange petals and grows year-round indoors. 
  • 'Lutea' Crossandra: Often called the Yellow Crossandra, this variety has golden flower blooms that thrive until the season's first frost. 
  • 'Mona Wallhead' Crossandra: A compact growing plant with salmon-pink blooms that's relatively cold-hardy.


Prune Crossandra in the spring before the new growing season to promote a healthy plant. Remove damaged stems to make room for healthy stems, or use cuttings for propagating new plants. Deadhead spent or faded blooms to encourage a fresh flower showing. Avoid unwanted growth by removing flower spikes before seed production begins.

Propagating Crossandra

Crossandra plants propagate from seeds and stem cuttings taken in the spring. Here is how to propagate Crossandra from stem cuttings:

  1. Before the growing season begins in the spring, use a sterilized, sharp knife or garden shears to take stem cuttings from a healthy plant. Cut just below the leaf node. The cutting should be about three to four inches long and contain several well-developed leaves and buds. 
  2. Remove all but the top set of leaves and dip the cuttings into a rooting hormone to help development. 
  3. Fill a container with seed-starting mix and place the cutting into the soil. Use your hands to pack the cutting in the mixture gently. 
  4. Water and maintain a well-draining container. 
  5. Use a plastic bag to encourage humidity. Continue to mist the plant with a water bottle until new growth emerges—usually about two to three weeks. 
  6. After new sprouts emerge, transplant to a larger container or outside—weather permitting—as new plants grow quickly.

How to Grow Crossandra From Seed

Start Crossandra by seed at any time when growing indoors. Using a seed-starting tray, fill the container with potting soil. Press the seeds into the soil, lightly cover, and mist with water. For best results, keep the container in an area with temperatures around 80°F. New growth should emerge in seven to 10 days—transplant sprouts to a larger container to accommodate rapid plant growth. Blooms appear about four months after starting seeds.

Potting and Repotting Crossandra

Young Crossandra roots grow quickly, often needing transplanting to a larger container after the first year. Avoid unnecessary repotting because these plants can suffer from transplant shock—a rootbound plant should only move every three years or more. When moving Crossandra, choose a clay or terracotta pot with plenty of drainage holes, or use a tray filled with pebbles and fill it with perlite-rich potting soil—Water deeply the day before and the day of transplanting.


If growing Crossandra as an annual, no winter care is necessary. For perennial Crossandra plants, move them indoors before the first frost. Blooming will depreciate during winter, but maintain proper care by providing plenty of indirect sunlight, fertilizing every two months, and misting to provide humidity. Watering decreases during the winter, but continue to mist plant and remove any spent or faded blooms to make room for healthy, new growth in the spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

If growing Crossandra outdoors, pests seldom bother it. Indoor plants are susceptible to mealybugs, aphids, and mites on the foliage. Visible insects or white residue signify an infestation, so start treatment by spraying the plant with water or using an insecticide if the issue persists. 

Diseases associated with Crossandra include root rot, leaf spots, powdery mildew, rust, and Botrytis blight. Maintaining proper care and avoiding soggy soil helps to prevent these diseases from developing. Overall, Crossandra is relatively disease-resistant.

Common Problems With Crossandra

Crossandra is a relatively easy-to-maintain plant, especially when grown as an annual. Some diseases still impact Crossandra, so here is what you need to know:

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow foliage most likely signifies overwatering. Overwatering causes several diseases to develop, including root rot. Avoid letting Crossandra sit in soggy soil, ensuring it completely drains between waterings. Bud and flower loss also accompany yellowing leaves.

Plant Leaves Falling Off

Crossandra needs proper sunlight and temperature requirements met to thrive. If growing in a dry climate, leaves can fall off after turning brown from underwatering. Underwatering also causes flower and leaf loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Crossandra toxic?

    No. Crossandra is considered non-toxic to people and pets

  • Where should you put Crossandra in your house?

    Crossandra grows indoors in bright, indirect sunlight. Position the plant near a north or east-facing window to avoid the harsh afternoon heat. Crossandra growing indoors need at least four hours of daily sun.

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