Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

ODONTONEMA tubaeforme

Image of Odontonema tubaeforme

James Burghardt

Family

Acanthaceae

Botanical Name

ODONTONEMA tubaeforme

Plant Common Name

Firespike, Purple Firespike

General Description

Hummingbirds love the vibrant blooms of purple firespike. Its dense upright flower clusters are a magenta-pink to lavender and add bright color and interest to warm climate gardens. This upright, tender shrub is native to lower Mexico and Central America where it naturally grows in the forest understory, margins and sometimes open areas.

Fast-growing in the heat and humidity of summer, the upright stems have oval deep green leaves that taper at the tips. These are in pairs along the stems. Stem tips exposed to the sun will develop either magenta-pink or lavender flower spikes covered with many small, tubular, five-lobed flowers with matching color bracts (petal-like leaves) that remain on the spike and look pretty after the flowers are long gone. Butterflies and hummingbirds readily frequent this plant, especially those that are magenta-flowering. Cutting off spent flower spikes encourage side shoots to flower while temperatures remain warm.

Grow purple firespike in full to partial sun and non-alkaline, well-drained soil. Sandy loam with organic matter is perfect. This shrub it killed back by frosts and freezes and behaves more like a perennial in USDA zones 9, protect for similiar performance when overwintering in zone 8. Plant it in mixed tropical shrub borders interminged with other classics like hibiscus, croton and dracaena. It can be severely cut back in the beginning of the warm rainy season and allowed to rejuvenate.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Central America

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

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Magenta, Rose, Lavender

  • Fruit Color

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No