Growing the firecracker vine (Ipomoea lobata), makes a relatively easy task.
The plant does require quite a bit of attention when grown indoors and as such, you need to stay on your toes.
Growing firecracker vines (not to be confused with the candy corn plant (Manettia) or candy corn vine) does not require tedious tasks but it requires a certain level of consistency.
However, the rewards of tending to this wonderfully decorative perennial plant flood all throughout the year.
The Firecracker Vine – Ipomoea Lobata
The firecracker vine sometimes called spanish flag and Mexican flame vine, comes as a native of the tropical regions of South America and Central America.
It blooms bright, funnel-shaped tubular flowers. They appear characteristically scarlet with bright yellow tips which glow under direct sunlight.
These bright little gems resemble firecrackers on the verge of explosion Due to this, the plant gets its “firecracker vine” name. The plant also bears dark, glossy oval-shaped leaves held by slender stems.
Requirements For Optimum Growth Of The Firecracker
Growing firecracker vines or Ipomoea Lobata needs basic planting requirements and conditions to grow their best in your garden. Take note of these important items and always include them in your daily checklist for the optimum growth of your firecracker vine.
Sunlight and Temperatures
The firecracker thrives in sunny conditions. Being of tropical origin, the firecracker plant enjoys heat and therefore, it will do well in relatively high temperatures.
The bright flowers of this drought tolerant plant grow well especially in daytime temperatures of up to 75 degrees and nighttime temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees. The lowest temperatures the plant can resist revolves around 50 to 55 degrees during winter.
The second key requirement goes hand in hand with its temperature requirements. Grow your firecracker vines in relatively humid conditions. You can achieve this by misting the leaves during the daylight hours.
You should only mist the leaves during sunny, cloudless days. Avoid doing so during dull, cloudy winter days. Alternatively, you can grow the plant in wide saucers filled with damp pebbles to increase humidity.
Water and Feeding
The firecracker vine benefits from plenty of water.
Make sure the vines in planted in a well-drained soil where the firecracker remains damp but not soggy. Otherwise, this will lead to root rot.
Ensure the plant gets plenty of water especially when it grows actively. The water should remain at room temperature. In addition, watering and misting gives the plant the moisture it requires.
Firecracker (Spanish Flag Vine) Plant Care
The plant does well in tropical conditions and when taken care of properly, it flowers all year round.
The Manettia has two different varieties. The Manettia Inflata, mostly grown in greenhouses flowers all year long. On the other hand, Manettia bi-color makes the houseplant type which also flowers profusely but not necessarily vibrant all year long.
The Manettia bi-color flowers mostly between March and September. This plant can flower all year long for as long as it receives proper care.
Simple Easy Steps For Maintaining Firecracker Varieties
- In order to satisfy its light and temperature requirements, position the firecracker plant in a sunny west or south-facing window with partial shade. All this for the purpose of receiving just the right amount of sunlight it needs.
Early morning sun rays may harm your plants while on the other hand, the late afternoon to early evening sun gives the best benefits.
In case the midday sun is unavoidable, care for your plant by protecting it from those harsh rays.
- The firecracker plant requires a fairly humid atmosphere to thrive due to its tropical nature. It is advisable that you mist the leaves of the plants on a daily basis especially when the weather is sunny. Avoid misting in the gloomy conditions of winter and on cold and cloudy days so as not to tamper with the temperature.
- Groom your firecracker plant regularly. The climbing stems of the firecracker plant can go through approximately 20 to 32 inches (more than one foot tall) of growth per year and so you will have to ensure that this growth is maintained. Allowing the vines to grow up a trellis makes for a handsome specimen.
Growing it in a hanging pot is ideal so as to give its tendrils ample climbing room. After a year, cut back on the grooming and let the plant grow naturally
- Firecracker vines require a substantial amount of water. Be very careful not to give it too much water. Watering excessively will lead to waterlogged soil, which causes the roots to rot.
- Plants also benefit from supplementary nutrition in the form of fertilizer. Liquid fertilizer is recommended in balanced solutions, which should be administered weekly in mild solutions. Observe the plant’s behavior before administering nutrition so as not to fertilize it excessively.
Common Ipomoea Lobata Problems
Question: Why are my leaves dropping? Why are the flowers taking too long to develop?
Answer: This is a common symptom of excessive watering at temperatures that are lower than optimum. Dry out your plant by putting it in a warm temperate and sunny location and cut back the amount of water administered to it.
Question: My leaves look yellowish and my plant does not seem to be growing anymore. What is the problem?
Answer: Your plant could be hungry. Do not be alarmed. This happens when the plant goes through periods of rapid growth especially in the late summer. You can curb this by adding liquid food in its water but only at half its concentration.
Question: I think my plant is infested. What should I do?
Answer: In case of an attack from pests, different techniques apply to different scenarios. In the case of manifestation of white bugs under the leaves (mealy bugs), isolate the plant and spray it with the appropriate insecticide 3 to 4 times a day at 3 to 4-day intervals. In the case of an aphid attack, repeat the procedure above.
There you have it. You do not have to be a botanist to grow and maintain a healthy firecracker vine. The plant has a lifespan of many years and it has a rapid re-growth period. It is a rewarding sight to have the beautiful firecracker flowers adorning your house all year long.