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APHELANDRA tetragona

Image of Aphelandra tetragona

James Burghardt

Family

Acanthaceae

Botanical Name

APHELANDRA tetragona

Plant Common Name

Fiery Spike, Red Aphelandra

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Fiery scarlet, cockscomb-like flower heads top the red aphelandra in summer or fall. A frost tender evergreen shrub, it is native to the rainforests of northern South America and the West Indies. It becomes an upright-stemmed plant with a spreading habit.

The medium green leaves are flared ovals, having a waved wider midsection. Flowering in the warm months, often delayed into late summer or well into autumn, each stem tip forms an architectural "hand". It has a primary upward stem that bears the first skinny, long tubular scarlet flowers, starting from the bottom of the stem and progressing upwards. The flowers are held in a vertical line, with three to four rows on each spike. Lower side stems soon accompany this first flower spike and bloom in the same manner, attracting hummingbirds.

Grow red aphelandra in partial sun to partial shade in a humus-rich sandy soil that is not alkaline. A lover of heat and high humidity, too much sun and dry soil will readily find leaves drooping and eventually yellowing. In winter the soil may become slightly drier. Use this tropical in the dappled shade areas of a mixed border alongside brightly foliage plants to accentuate its frilly and vivid flowers. In cold regions it is best suited to greenhouses that have high humidity in the summer.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Red, Orange Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No