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Two plants are commonly known as the firecracker flower. The first, Crossandra infundibuliformis is a decorative shrub native to India and Sri Lanka but grown as a decorative plant throughout warm regions around the world. It sometimes is called crossandra when paired with the blossom’s color, such as the yellow crossandra or orange crossandra. Dichelostemma ida-maia, a red wildflower native to northern California and Oregon, also is referred to as the firecracker flower.
Crossandra infundibuliformis is a perennial shrub with broad, dark leaves and bright flowers that remain for most of the year. These five-petal blossoms grow in a variety of bright colors, including yellow, pink, red, orange and even turquoise. Although its petals are easily knocked away by the elements or even by heavy watering, the blossoms can remain for most of the year. Rainfall or high humidity also can make the plant’s seed pods pop, and the firecracker flower gets its name from these exploding pods.
These plants do well in direct light or with semi-shade. They do best in warm, humid climates, and in dryer areas, they will require regular watering and good drainage. Cold is poorly tolerated, and the leaves of the firecracker flower will blacken if subjected to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius).
A mature crossandra will grow to about 2 feet (about 60 cm) tall, with shorter dwarf varieties also available. They grow well in pots, making them popular choices for indoor and outdoor decorating. In India and other warm regions, the firecracker flower also is used as a colorful border hedge for fencing off a property.
Dichelostemma ida-maia is a long-stemmed flower with clusters of bright, tubular flowers hanging in a pendant fashion from the stems’ tops. Stems grow up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall, with 20 or more flowers on some stems. Native to northwestern United States, this firecracker flower often grows as a wildflower in higher elevations or at the edge of a wooded area, but it also is popular for landscaping in flowerbeds and is cultivated for its colorful flowers — a deep crimson with a pale green lip at the end.
The plants do well in direct sunlight or semi-shade and are not difficult to grow. They require dry summers but need more moisture in the spring. In May or June, the firecracker flower blossoms. These flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds, which help to pollinate the plant.