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Blooming Plants
            
         Crossandra

BOTANICAL NAME
Crossandra infundibuliformis (kro-SAN-druh in-fun-dih-bew-LEE-for-mis)

COMMON NAME
Firecracker flower

DESCRIPTION
Crossandras are tropical, evergreen, shrubby plants that have oval, deep green leaves that are about 2 inches long. They are popular for their compact spikes of funnel-shaped flowers. Plant size ranges from 6 inches to 3 feet, depending on the variety.

COLORS
Crossandra blossoms come in hues of salmon, coral, apricot and orange.

CONSUMER LIFE
Crossandras will begin flowering when the plants are only a few months old. They will bloom continuously for several months.

AVAILABILITY
Crossandras generally are available from late winter through autumn—March through November.

IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, indirect light is best for Crossandra plants that are displayed indoors. Flower development is dependent on light intensity. Flowers will develop only when the light intensity is 2,000 foot-candles or higher. The plant will remain vegetative when the light intensity is below 1,800 foot-candles.
WATER Crossandra plants should be kept evenly moist. Overwatering or underwatering can cause bud drop. Do not allow the plant to wilt. Water in the early part of the day, and avoid standing water on the foliage.
TEMPERATURE Crossandras are sensitive to cold. They will do best if night temperatures are maintained at 65 F to 75 F and day temperatures average 75 F. Do not refrigerate the plants. If temperatures drop below 45 F, the foliage will turn black and drop.
HUMIDITY Crossandras need frequent misting and high humidity.
FERTILIZER Healthy, fertilized plants are more tolerant of insect attacks. Be sure plants are well watered before applying fertilizer.
SOIL These plants do best in a potting mix that has equal parts of loam, peat moss and sand.
GROOMING Pinch Crossandras to encourage branching and shape. Cut the plants back when they have finished flowering to remove straggly branches and faded flowers. Trimming also will stimulate new, healthy growth and additional blossoms.

CHALLENGE
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY The flowers drop when exposed to ethylene gas. Make sure your plants have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.

QUALITY CHECKLIST
BLOOMS Purchase plants with 30 percent to 50 percent of the flowers open. Remove faded florets on the stems. Don’t accept plants that show signs of wilt, rot, mold or yellowing.
FOLIAGE Plants should have glossy, deep green foliage.
PESTS Several insects may infest these plants. Check frequently for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies.

FUN FACTS
MEANING ”Crossandra” is Greek for “fringed anthers.” “Infundibuliformis” refers to the funnel form of the flowers.
FAMILY Crossandras are members of the Acanthaceae family and are related to Aphelandras (zebra plants), Fittonias (nerve plants) and Hypoesteses (polka-dot plants), among others.
ORIGINS The plants are native to Southern India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Arabian Peninsula, tropical Africa and Madagascar.

Some information provided by:
Desert-Tropicals.com, www.desert-tropicals.com
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual.

You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

Images courtesy of The John Henry Company


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