Russelia equisetiformis
Common Name: coral plant
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Plantaginaceae
Native Range: Mexico
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Hummingbirds

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11. In St. Louis, grow in pots or hanging baskets which should be overwintered indoors. Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soil moisture. Established plants tolerate some dry soils, but are best in medium moisture soils. Also grows well in moist soils at the periphery of ponds or water gardens. Site in locations sheltered from strong winds. Cascading stems may root where they touch the ground, either accidentally or by design, and new plants can be potted up when this occurs. Overwinter as a houseplant in a warm sun room (if well sited, it may continue to bloom throughout winter) or force into dormancy by cutting stems back hard and storing in a dark, cool, dry corner of a basement or frost free garage. Stems of overwintered houseplants may be pruned or cut back to the soil level in spring in advance of placing pots outdoors.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to Mexico, coral plant or coral fountain (also sometimes firecracker plant) is a deciduous, asparagus-like, many-branched, tropical subshrub (to 4’ tall) with trailing rush-like 4-angled stems and bright red tubular firecracker-like flowers (to 1.25” long) in drooping terminal cymes. Blooms freely from late spring to frost. Needle-like medium green leaves (to 1/2” long). Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds. Synonymous with R. juncea. Genus name honors Alexander Russell, 18th century English physician.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

In the St. Louis area, these plants grow well in hanging baskets, containers or sunk to the rim in garden areas. Containers may be set in the ground to cascade over walls or sunk in damp soils at the edge of ponds or water gardens. Stems may also be tied to a trellis up against a wall. Container plants are an excellent addition to a bird garden or rock garden.