The Brazilian firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis) is native to parts of tropical America and Mexico. Often called the coral plant for its tubular, thin, coral-colored flowers, this shrub is a favorite with home gardeners who love the plant for its showy displays of drooping blooms, which can reach up to 2 inches in length and are grouped in 12-inch-long clusters. This hardy plant is a vigorous grower and can even become invasive if not controlled, according to Edward F. Gilman, a horticulturist with the University of Florida.
The Brazilian firecracker is a tropical plant and will only grow well in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the United States. These are defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as growing zones 9b through 11, which can be found in parts of eastern California, Arizona, the far south of Texas and the southern half of Florida.
This showy shrub features attractive, drooping branches covered with flowers that can last for the entire growing season. For continuous blooming, the Brazilian firecracker needs to be exposed to full sun conditions, which is defined as a minimum of four hours of sunlight per day and preferably up to 12 hours.
The firecracker plant is desirable because it will grow in most types of soil, save those that hold water. Clay, loamy, rocky and even soil with a high salt content will support this shrub as long as the soil drains well. In fact, the Brazilian firecracker grows equally well in soil that is acidic or alkaline. Soil that holds standing water will cause the roots of the plant to quickly rot. If your soil is overly soggy, amend it with equal parts peat moss and sand to help it drain better.
Water and Fertilizer
The coral plant does not need to be consistently moist. Instead, water the plant when the top few inches of the soil become dry. Potted plants should be watered until the pots drain freely, then the water catch-tray should be emptied so that the plant is not sitting in water for any amount of time. Fertilize your plant with a balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer twice per month for every month of the year.
Propagation of Russelia equisetiformis is relatively easy and can be achieved by division or by taking stem cuttings in early spring. This hardy plant tolerates division very well. Or, prune off a side shoot that is a minimum of 3 inches long. Insert into warm, moist sand and keep the sand moist until the stems begin to take root.