Crossandra Plant Care: How To Grow The Firecracker Flower

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The Crossandra plant (Crossandra infundibuliformis), pronounced [kross-AN-druh in-fun-dih-bew-LEE-for-miss], is known for its bright orange flowers, thrived in India and Sri Lanka nearly 100 years ago.

The Greek name means “fringed anthers.” Plant growers forgot about “orange marmalade,” this evergreen plant with glossy gardenia-like foliage for many years until their rediscovery and cultivation in the 1950s.


This plant’s common name is the firecracker flower.

The firecracker flower Crossandra plant belongs to the Acanthus (Acanthaceae family), which includes several other favorite plants, such as the:

… and others.

The natural habitat of Crossandras is the East Indies, Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and the rest of the Indian subcontinent.

Crossandra plants with their bright orange flowers are grown as annual or perennial, planted in the garden, or as wonderful flowering windowsill houseplants depending on where you live.

Crossandra Plant Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Crossandra infundibuliformis
  • Common Name(s): Firecracker Flower, Orange Marmalade
  • Synonyms: None
  • Family & Origin: Acanthaceae family, native to India and the East Indies.
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 10-11
  • Size: Can grow up to 2-3 feet tall and wide
  • Flowering: Blooms all year round with orange or yellow flowers
  • Light: Prefers bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: Thrives in high humidity
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature of 72° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Well-draining soil with organic matter
  • Water: Keep soil moist but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Feed with a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during growing season
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to spider mites and mealybugs. Can also be affected by root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or division
  • Plant Uses: Used as an ornamental plant in gardens or as a houseplant. Can also be used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Crossandra Care And Growing Requirements

Crossandra infundibuliformis is prized for its constant show of bright orange flowers and shiny green foliage. Here’s a list of the characteristics of a Crossandra plant that received the right amount of care.

Size And Growth Rate

Crossandra grows to a height of about 12″ – 18″ inches tall, producing deep green foliage with glossy leaves resembling Gardenia plant leaves.

When orange marmalade Crossandra reaches the desired height, it is a good idea to pinch out the tips to help the orange firecracker plant branch nicely.

A bushy-appearing bedding plant, the foliage is stalkless, and the leaves attach directly to the plant stem.

The mostly opposite leaves are shiny and always look neat.

Crossandra orange marmalade is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 10 – 11.

Flowering Plant, Bright Orange Flowers, and No Fragrance

Cassandra plant flowers are produced on exotic four-sided inflorescences with asymmetrical petals that grow from the upper portions of the new growth.

Within these showy four-sided spikes are numerous buds, each of which produces a flat coral-orange marmalade flower.

When several flowers are in bloom from spring until the first frost, the strange inflorescence reminds me of an oriental temple.

The color of these blooms is difficult to describe because it is an unusual combination of pink, orange, coral, and yellow, which blends into a pastel shade seldom seen in crossandra flower.

However, if one must describe them, the color of their flowers is usually salmon pink, while others vary from orange to red with no fragrance.

The flowers measure 1 ½” inches in diameter and sit upright in sheaf-like clusters. From April to October, Crossandra constantly blooms beautiful flowers.

The flowers come from green bracts on four-sided spikes.

A well-branched plant usually has several spikes, each carrying many wide clusters of overlapping florets, producing a truly unusual display.

Each orange marmalade firecracker flower’s slender, tubular part ends in a five-lobed, flat, clear apricot-salmon-colored showy bloom.

Light And Temperature

Crossandra, as a heat-tolerant plant, enjoys heat and high humidity (more tropical conditions). When they bloom, a temperature range from 70° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit is recommended.

They can withstand a window facing south under a strong mid-day sun with proper protection.

Remember that Crossandra is native to India and the East Indies and likes heat.

However, the Crossandra will take its sun straight and undiluted during winter, and it will bloom profusely.

The plant will provide months of lovely flowers with indirect sunlight.

Direct sunlight will warm the plant to its liking, even though the surrounding area is cooler than it prefers.

When the sun becomes stronger in spring, filtered partial shade is helpful.

If given the right temperature, the Crossandra plant pays back with longer and more intense colors.

Watering And Feeding

Keep the soil slightly moist with warm water in summer, and reduce water during winter. Cold water triggers a state of shock, causing the Crossandra plant to die.

Keep evenly moist soil in potted plants. Never muddy-wet.

Crossandras bloom month after month. When the spikes have only a few florets left, keep the soil rather dry until the seed pods turn tan in color and are taken from the bracts to continue the maturing of the seed.

Never permit the foliage to wilt or shrivel for lack of moisture during this semi-rest period.

Feed it using a diluted to half-strength liquid fertilizer for houseplants every two weeks from April to August, and mist lightly when having challenges with humidity.

Using a granular nutrient during the winter months will also work well.

Soil And Transplanting

Repot the plant in spring if you want to keep the indoor plant for more than one year. Use a standard, well-drained soil mix in a shallow pot. Make sure the pot has adequate drainage.

When grown outdoors, adding peat and compost into the soil before planting will provide added nutrients and good drainage.

Moreover, ensure the soil is slightly acidic with pH levels between 5.8 and 6.5.

The usual potting soil, 1/3 each of rich loam, peat moss or leaf mold, and coarse sand, is suitable, and good drainage is necessary for all potted plants.

When grown indoors, ensure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot by placing the plant in a pebble tray.


Occasional pruning will keep your Crossandra looking its best. Pinch back or deadhead withered marmalade flower clusters during the growing season.

If seeds are not desired, the spikes may be cut off after flowering. New spikes bring new florets.

The common firecracker flower species Crossandra infundibuliformis growing and flowering well as a potted plant.Pin
Crossandra infundibuliformis (firecracker flower) flowering and growing well as a potted plant.

Repotting Crossandra

With the right care, Crossandra will stay attractive for a couple of years. But this would require a new pot with fresh, well-draining soil every spring.

Use Azalea Pots

Choose a pot a size bigger than the old one. A shallow Azalea pot is an ideal container for repotting Crossandra. Cover the holes in the pot with another larger pot to ensure good drainage.

Sprinkle loose soil into the pot. Next, put the plant in as deep as it was in its old pot and remove any tips that appear too long, saggy, or droopy.

If the Crossandra plant looks very “substandard,” cut back to a third of its original size.

Propagating Crossandra

Make stem cuttings out of non-woody shoots for about 3″to 4″inches long. Each cutting must hold a number of leaf buds and well-developed leaves.

Remove the two bottom-most leaves and dip the cuttings’ moistened end in a hormone-rooting compound.

Plant several cuttings in a pot. Then, devise a small greenhouse by securing a plastic bag over a wire frame with an elastic material.

Maintain a temperature of 72° to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

Roots begin forming after two to three weeks. Alternatively, you can grow the plant from seed, which is a more difficult task.

Growing Crossandra Seeds

Crossandra infundibuliformis is easily raised from seed germinated on sphagnum moss or soil containing vermiculite and equal parts of perlite and peat moss.

Seeds need temperatures between 70° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit for best germination.

Transfer the seedlings to individual pots and pinch them back when they are 4″ inches high.

If grown in rich, moist soil at a temperature of at least 65° degrees Fahrenheit, the seedlings will bloom in about seven months from seed.

Raising Crossandra From Seed: A Personal Memory

This secret seed-producing arrangement posed a problem for me when I grew my first Crossandra.

The stamens are within the thin tube and are not visible among the florets.

I could not find the pollen within this slender tube to help nature along.

Before long, I noted that nature had a way of helping herself without my hands or the helpful insects we depend on in the orchards and fields.

Each green bract contained a large, tan-colored, oblong seed. I was surprised to find such large seeds.

I dried the seeds and planted them without germination.

One day, with several of these seeds dry and ready to store, one of the precious seeds broke open, and out fell four nice, flat, tan-colored true seeds.

The large seed was a seed pod or capsule. The “do it yourself” Crossandra had revealed its seed-producing secrets.

After planting, these seeds soon germinated, and a pot of sturdy seedlings was all set for a life of their own.

They bloom when about seven months old, and as the plant grows, more and more flower spikes are produced.

Important Things To Remember In Growing Crossandra

  • Temperature and humidity are some of the most important things to take note of when growing Crossandra. The plant needs very high humidity.
  • The Crossandra prefers being kept warm and moist, much like the African violet.
  • It prefers a rich humus loam with good drainage so the roots will not drown.
  • Plant mixes that contain coarse perlite, and peat moss have given good results with my Crossandra plants.
  • If you now grow African violets, you should try this new beauty.
  • It does wonderfully under the same temperature and light conditions that Saintpaulia enjoys.
  • Crossandra also attracts pollinators such as butterflies and dragonflies.

Tip When You Water Crossandra

Always water the Crossandra plant with warm water as it can be easily shocked and cause its death. Crossandra hates cold water and should not receive frequent watering.

Self Pollinating

The flowers are self-pollinating, assuring the production of fascinating seed pods.

Usually, a plant will have seed maturing on the lower portion of the bud cluster and flowers happily sprouting from the tip section.

Under ideal cultural conditions, the plant will continue to flower for long periods since flower stalks are produced with new growth.


Crossandra does not need full sun to flower profusely and is almost everblooming in a window that receives only morning sun but gets bright light during the afternoon hours.

The young plants will flower in their sixth month, so there will always be new, beautiful Crossandra plants on the indoor window sill.

This plant is happy in any window where it gets good light and some sun.

I do not recommend long, continuous hot sun for it.

It is also being grown successfully under artificial fluorescent light.

Watch this video to see a healthy and blooming Crossandra in action:

Crossandra Problems: Pests And Diseases

Here are some issues that will prevent you from achieving good results when growing and caring for Crossandra. We also include solutions to each problem for your benefit.

Dry, Curled Leaves

This only means that the air is too dry or the sunlight is too strong. Move the plant to a spot with better protection and mist frequently.

Brown Spots

These brown spots indicate that your Crossandra received cold watering. If this happens frequently, the plant will surely die.

Poor Appearance Of Leaves And Stems

Crossandra is a bushy plant and shows glossy leaves with the best care. If the plant shows otherwise, it may be due to overwatering.

No Growth

If the growth is stagnant and the leaves drop, the firecracker flower plant is too cold. Follow our advice and read more about providing the right temperature and humidity for your Crossandra plants.

Only Tiny Leaves During Spring

You over-watered the Cassandra flower. Repot your plant and provide fresh soil.

Mealy Bugs

Mealybugs can cause serious damage and must be eliminated immediately.

Related: Read our article on how to get rid of and control mealybugs.


This nuisance often appears on older orange marmalade plants. 

Related: More in controlling and getting rid of aphids in our article.

Crossandra plants may be sensitive to cold, but for as long as their growing requirements are met, you can ensure a great reward of brightly-colored blooms and foliage.

Other Problems

Other common insect problems of Orange Crossandra plants include mites that leave noticeable signs like clumps of white powder or small webs.

You can use a strong blast of water to get rid of them. In addition, spraying the infested areas with isopropyl alcohol will also work well.

As for the disease, powdery mildew is a common disease that attacks this plant. You can use neem oil or fungicide to remedy this.

Tips On Buying Crossandra

Apart from propagation, whether or not you will successfully grow beautiful Crossandra depends on the purchased plant’s quality. Only buy those that look bushy and have glossy leaves and lots of flower buds.

Not A Short-lived Plant

Crossandra is often mistaken for a short-lived plant. However, it can actually overwinter and still produce its beautiful orange flowers the following year. Just make sure to look for the qualities mentioned above.

Crossandra Sale Season

The sale season for Crossandra plants is from April to October. Plan on how you can achieve its temperature and other growing requirements before you buy one.

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