Firecracker plant, also known as cigar flower or its Latin name, Cuphea ignea, is a perennial plant valued for its ornamental flowers, lance-shaped foliage and ease of care. The plant's long, tubular flowers resemble small, red firecrackers, hence the common name. Firecracker plant blooms during the spring and summer months, producing numerous flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden. Native to Central America, firecracker plant thrives in consistently warm temperatures and is hardy outdoors in USDA zones 10 through 12 only. Gardeners in most of the United States grow the plant indoors. Caring for firecracker plants is not difficult.
Place the firecracker plant in a location that receives direct sunlight for six to eight hours a day. Grow the plant in fertile, moist, well-drained potting soil mix for the best results. Maintain a consistent temperature of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Water once every seven to 10 days, allowing the soil to dry slightly between applications. Apply water during the early morning so excess moisture can evaporate before temperatures drop in the evening. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every two weeks during winter.
Apply a slow-release fertilizer once per year during early spring, just as active growth resumes. Apply according to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage.
Re-pot once every two to three years in early spring, just as active growth begins. Increase the diameter of the container by 3 to 5 inches to provide plenty of room for new growth. Use a fresh, moist growing medium to help the plant adjust to its new home.