Some plants invite debate among botanical circles regarding their classification. Few are as controversial as Chlorophytum amaniense (kloh-roh-FY-tum a-ma-nee-enn-sei).
This plant, a relative of the Chlorophytum spider plant, is more commonly known as Fire Flash or Mandarin spider plant. Several species names have been given over the years, while some experts argue it is a subspecies or cultivar.
Some of the debated scientific names are:
- Chlorophytum amaniense
- Chlorophytum amaniense ‘Fire Flash’
- Chlorophytum filipendulum amaniense
- Chlorophytum filipendulum’ Fire Flash’
- Chlorophytum’ Fire Flash’
- Chlorophytum orchidantheroides
- Chlorophytum orchidastrum
It also has a handful of other common names, including:
- Fire Glory
- Green Orange
- Mandarin Spider Plant
- Sierra Leone Lily
No matter where you stand on the “Great Name Debate,” this perennial member of the Asparagaceae family is sure to please.
As exotic as its home in Tanzania, East Africa the plant has a spark of bright orange that makes it look like it’s on fire. It is a popular choice when looking for some extra color.
Mandarin Spider Plant Care
Size and Growth
This Chlorophytum is a relatively small plant, reaching a maximum size of 20″ inches around.
It’s a slow grower, producing a few leaves per year and reaching its maximum height after about 5 to 10 years.
It has rubbery, glossy, medium green leaves with a lanceolate shape. It grows to 10″ to 12″ inches long and 2″ to 4″ inches wide.
The lanceolate leaves of this ornamental foliage plant feature pointed leaf tips and undulate leaf margins and form a rosette.
But the plant’s main claim to fame is its bright orange petioles and leaf midribs, making it look like the plant is on fire at its center.
Flowering and Fragrance
Fire glory isn’t a big fan of blooming indoors and will rarely do so.
It’s more likely to produce seasonal flowers if kept outside or migrated outdoors during the warmer months.
It produces a single 6″ inch raceme of tiny cream to greenish-white flowers when it does bloom.
These flowers last about a week before giving way to orange seed pods.
Light Levels and Temperature
This plant tolerates a wide range of lighting, from full shade to bright, indirect sunlight.
If placed in direct sunlight, it can suffer leaf burns. Or it may fade if kept in full shade. Bright, indirect sunlight or dappled shade works best.
The plant prefers moderate humidity and will do fine in most household settings without needing misting.
Outdoors, you may want to mist occasionally in arid environments and dry weather. It will thrive if the ambient humidity runs around 40% to 50% percent.
Ideally, the plant should be in temperatures of 75° to 85° degrees Fahrenheit but will be comfortable from 65° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid temperatures below 50° degrees Fahrenheit when growing indoors.
Outdoors, the plant is best suited for USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11 and will generally overwinter with minimal damage if the ground is dry.
Watering and Feeding
Water when the soil becomes dry to the touch 1″ inch deep, cutting back in the winter.
Avoid tap water, as fluoride can damage your plant.
Instead, use room temperature distilled water or rainwater.
The roots contain nodules which store water, making the plant somewhat drought tolerant.
An excellent balanced household fertilizer will work well for your fire glory, although you can also use fertilizers with an N-P-K of 3-1-2 or 2-1-2.
Apply a diluted amount on the plant during the spring and summer, following the package instructions.
Soil and Transplanting
Your mandarin plant will be happy in almost any soil type, as long as it’s well-draining.
When planting indoors or in a container, you may choose to use any quality potting mix, such as MiracleGro.
Avoid cheap brands, as they often don’t sterilize the soil before packaging, and it may contain fungal spores or dormant pests.
Repot the plant every two years to give it fresh soil, upscaling the pot only as needed.
Note that green orange has sensitive roots and will suffer transplant shock worse than many of its relatives. Thus, avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible.
Grooming and Maintenance
The stems of this plant are brittle, so use care when pruning.
You may wish to remove damaged leaves, as they will turn black around the damaged area.
Likewise, deadheading is a good idea since the spent raceme will turn black and become unsightly.
Using a leaf shine or wiping down the leaves on indoor specimens will help improve photosynthesis and bring out the glossy appearance.
How To Propagate Green Orange
The most common form of propagation for flowering plants is through seeds.
Each pod produces plenty of seeds, and there are plenty of pods.
Even with many seeds failing, you can usually create around 60 new plants from a single raceme.
Propagation through division sometimes works for this plant. But the sensitivity of its roots means a longer recovery time.
On occasion, it may produce plantlets to separate from the mother plant. Although this is not as common as with its cousin, the spider plant.
Mandarin Plant Pests or Diseases
This plant is resistant to most diseases, although leaf chlorosis and root rot occur.
Infestations are rare and generally are the result of an infestation in other nearby plants.
The plant is non-toxic to both humans and pets, although it’s still not a good idea to snack on the leaves.
Chlorophytum amaniense Uses
Due to the smaller size of this plant and its ability to grow in lower light conditions, it’s perfect for offices and dorms.
It works well in borders or as a shade plant and complements terra cotta pots.
While not a runner like its cousin, the spider plant, fire flash looks excellent in hanging baskets.