Species Spotlight: Firespike

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is an herbaceous perennial with large showy spikes of bright red tubular flowers that bloom during autumn.  These flowers attract many species of butterflies as well as hummingbirds.

Red Firespike, Odontonema strictum

Firespike is one of very few red flowering plants that perform well in partial shade.  It is also recommended for landscapes infested with root-knot nematode, as it is more tolerate to damage than other ornamental plants.  Plants grow 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.  The purple flowering firespike (Odontonema callistachyum) blooms in winter and is a good choice for southern Florida.

Plants die back during freezing weather and should be cut to the ground after danger of frost in the spring. This stimulates fresh growth from the base of the plant and removes last year’s twigs.  In frost-free areas, cut stems back to the ground after flowering.

Purple Firespike, O. callistachyum

A general purpose, slow-release fertilizer application in spring should be sufficient for adequate growth through the season.  Like most plants, maintaining a 2- to 3- inch layer of organic mulch is beneficial to retain soil moisture and keep the root ball from drying out.

Firespike can be found growing in the Arboretum and Gardens located at the Baker County Extension Office.  For more information on this plant and photos from our garden, see:  Firespike, Odontonema strictum

To learn more about our garden and the plant species found there, visit: Arboretum & Gardens of Baker County

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