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Odontonema strictum

Pronunciation: Oh-dawn-toe-neem-muh strick-tum
Family: Acanthaceae
Synonym: Odontonema tubiforme
Common Name: Firespike, Cardinal Guard, Scarlet Flame
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 6 feet
Width to: 39 inches
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • early spring
  • late autumn
  • early winter
  • mid winter
  • late winter
Bloom Description: From late summer through winter Firespike (Odontonema strictum) produces abundant 9-12 in (23-30. 5 cm) upright panicles of brilliant red tubular flowers. The individual flowers are about an inch long and two-lipped (symmetrical).
Soil Type: Under glass, grow in soil based potting mix. Outdoors, grow in fertile, moist but well drained soil
Pests and Diseases: Whiteflies, spider mites, edema
Propagation: Softwood cuttings are very easy to root, and they will bloom in their first year. It is sometimes possible (if you're lucky) to cut a branch and just stick it in the ground where you want a new plant. It is also possible to root a leaf or stem by simply placing the cut end in water and giving it bright, indirect light. (see photo above of a sprouted leaf petiole only 17 days in water. )
Native to: Central America
Winter Sowing Zones: None
Notes for Identification:

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is an erect shrub with robust, sparsely branched, rigid stems and oblong, wavy margined, glossy, deep green leaves, 4 to 6 inches long, with long sharp points.

The strikingly beautiful crimson flowers and glossy/shiny leaves will brighten the fall landscape.

Plant Firespike in mixed shrub borders. It will spread by underground sprouting, enlarging to form a thicket, but it is easy to control and keep contained.

Firespike is a must-have for southern butterfly and hummingbird gardens.

Firespike is one of the few red tubular flowers to bloom in autumn and is very popular with hummingbirds and all kinds of butterflies. Unfortunately, white-tailed deer love firespike too, and will eat the leaves. Defoliated plants will grow new leaves, but if the deer persist, the plant eventually will be killed.

Source: Various sources including The American Horticultural Society A to Z Encyclopedia, Floridata of Garden Plants and the USDA


USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • 150 to 180 days ZONE 10
  • 180 to 210 days ZONE 11
  • Greater then 210 ZONE 12
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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