Crossandra Flower: Everything You Need to Know!

Beautiful Crossandra Flower
Beautiful Crossandra Flower (Source: Pixabay)

Did you know Crossandra (kross-an-druh) flowers are called “firecracker flowers” because the seed pods explode when they experience rainfall or high humidity?

Pretty interesting, right? There are more exciting aspects to this flower which is native to the heat basins of earth,  India, and Sri Lanka.

Generally, Crossandra flowers from mid-spring to mid-autumn, but they can bloom all year long under the right conditions. Flowers are in shades of orange, yellow, pink, red, and pink. Even when grown indoors, they can bloom gracefully.

Flower of Crossandra
Crossandra Flower (Source: Wikimedia)

This plant is usually grown for its beautiful blooms and offers no particular fragrance.

Let us explore all about this beautiful flower and ways to keep them healthy.

How Often does the Crossandra Flower?

Crossandra is a plant famous for its blooms that grows all year round. Many people in the plant’s native zone believe that this flower symbolizes the sun.

They produce beautiful flowers all year long if the conditions are right. Following the perennial root of the plant, the flower also blooms yearly.

As a fast-growing plant, Crossandra will flower from mid-spring to mid-autumn, nearly four months after it sprouts.

Beautiful Crossandra Flower
Beautiful Crossandra Flower (Source: Pixahive)

After its first bloom, the plant flowers all summer long. The process from budding to the flower drying up can last up to four weeks, while the flower can bloom for nearly ten days.

You can let the plant flower without concern as Crossandra is not monocarpic, meaning it will not die soon after flowering.

As a sun-loving plant, Crossandra may have a hard time flowering indoors. But, if you provide enough light, it may flower.

The plant may throw tantrums if you move it too often. So, if you want to care for the flower, it is better to provide them with a constant location.

Crossandra Flower Overview

The beautiful, bright color of Crossandra attracts butterflies, bees, and other pollinators that play a crucial role in the pollination process.

Crossandra is a subtropical plant that grows well indoors.

Although its foliage can grow as high as three feet, it typically stays indoors at or below two feet. The leaves can grow as long as five inches.

Crossandra Flower Petals
Crossandra Flower Petals (Source: Pxhere)

Let’s look at the basic overview of the Crossandra flower.

IndicatorIdentity
StructureTubular structure with five asymmetrical petals that overlap each other.
Size1.5 inches in diameter.
ColorOrange, yellow, red or pink.
FragranceNo fragrance.
ToxicityNon-toxic to humans and pets.
LifespanNearly 10 days.
FruitsCapsule types fruits.
Blooming SeasonMid-spring to Mid-summer

The flowers are intriguing as they are tubular, have 3 to 5 asymmetrical petals, and end in five-lobed petals resembling fans and overlapping to form the flowerhead.

They have a stalk resembling a tube that is 2 cm long and grows from four-sided spikes.

There are different varieties of Crossandra based on the colors pink, yellow, and red.

However, new varieties of orange Crossandra ‘Florida Sunset’ and ‘Orange Marmalade’ have emerged.

The name “firecracker flower” refers to the seed pods rather than the gorgeous blooms.

When the flowers have dried and formed seed pods, they become little seed-filled time bombs. The pods pop open on a high humid day, scattering seeds across the ground.

Crossandra flower with seed pods
Crossandra flower with seed pods (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

You can collect the seed pods and cut the pointy ends to extract the seeds.

How do you Pollinate the Crossandra Flower?

The Crossandra is a favorite flower of pollinators like butterflies, bees, and dragonflies. Not only insects, but they attract hummingbirds and other birds as well.

The flowers self-pollinate that develop intriguing seed pods.

A plant typically has flowers happily sprouting from the tip section and seeds maturing on the lower portion of the bud cluster.

One interesting phenomenon the flower follows is explosive dehiscence, a process in which the seed pods/anther of the flower blasts, releasing seeds/pollen in the air.

Thanks to its slender tube, finding pollen to pollinate by hand is next to impossible in the Crossandra flower.

Pollination by Insects
Pollination by Insects (Source: Taurus)

The pollination in this flower is complex as it sounds. Insects find the nectar in this plant delicious, so their visit is frequent.

If you want to induce pollination in this plant, you must pray that the specific pollinators do their job successfully.

Thanks to explosive dehiscence, if many Crossandras are kept at a close distance, there is a high chance of pollination.

How to Make a Crossandra Plant Flower?

Crossandra plant does not need extra special treatment for flowering. It is mainly grown for its beautiful blooms.

But still, you may have to look at certain factors to make the plant flower.

Crossandra Flower
Crossandra Flower (Source: Flickr)

Look below for the factors you need to consider if you want to make the Crossandra flower.

  • Provide Crossandra with a lot of bright indirect sunlight. 
  • Crossandra thrives indoors in a sunny north or east-facing window or under strong artificial lighting. Try to bring in as much light as possible indoors during the winter.
  • The best range for the temperature for Crossandra to bloom is between 70° and 75° F.
  • Crossandra prefers slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5) peat-based potting soil.
  • Crossandra prefers slightly moist soil that is not constantly soggy. 
  • Water this plant sparingly on alternate days throughout the growing season when grown outdoors.
  • If growing it as a perennial, cut back on watering to once a week in the winter.
  • Let the plant dry out completely before watering them again to encourage new blooms.
  • You should prune the plant timely and maintain a tidy appearance to get it to bloom.
  • Deadheading Crossandra flowers encourage the growth of new buds and flowers.

Word of Warning! Move the plant to a location where you don’t have heavy rainfall as it damages the plant.

  • Crossandra loves a good amount of humidity. So, mist the plant once in a while to maintain the moisture.
  • If you keep your plant in frosty conditions, it will NEVER flower.
  • Use a liquid houseplant fertilizer rich in phosphorus every two weeks during the growing season to make your Crossandra flower.

You may never see your plant bloom if you live in the USDA zones outside 8-11.

Watch the video to get more tips,

Common Problems with Crossandra Flowers

Of course, your flowers are never safe from the problems that may occur due to certain factors.

Let’s look at a few problems and their causes.

  • If your Crossandra flowers are wilting, the primary cause can be due to extreme cold. Move your plant to a warmer location to recover them.
Crossandra Wilting
Crossandra Wilting (Source: Reddit)
  • Improper watering, sudden change in temperatures, and location changes can trigger flower loss in the Crossandra plant.
  • Your Crossandra flowers may start to die untimely if you overwater them with cold water during the winter season.
  • If you fertilize the plant with a fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, you will not be able to witness the flowers but only the foliage growth.
  • The growth of Crossandra flowers will stop in low light conditions. This plant will produce lovely foliage in low or filtered light, but it will not bloom or only bloom sparingly.

Should you Deadhead Crossandra Flowers?

With the beautiful blooms, the Crossandra plant may give you a tough time deciding whether to cut the flowers or not.

Deadheading Crossandra throughout the summer encourages new blooms and keeps your plant looking tidy.

Cut the spikes back before they start producing seeds if you want to stop seed production.

You can keep your Crossandra looking its best by pruning it occasionally. You can deadhead or pinch back flower clusters that have withered.

Remove stems that are dead or decaying from the plant as well. After the blooms wilt and die, trim the flower stalks at the base.

Firecracker Flower
Firecracker Flower (Source: Pixahive)

How to Deadhead Crossandra Flowers?

The main benefit of deadheading the Crossandra flowers is that trimming down the old and dead foliage may promote new flower growth.

Prune your Crossandra plants in the spring, just before they begin active growth.

Follow the steps below correctly to ensure you do not mess up the cutting.

  • Gear up with freshly disinfected pruning shears and gardening gloves.
  • Check the plants for any dead or wilted flowers.
  • Grab the dead flowers by their base and cut the peduncle connecting the flower to the plant.
Pedicel and Peduncle
Pedicel and Peduncle (Source: Chegg)
  • The above cutting process is deadheading, ensuring that the plant doesn’t spend its energy on seed production.
  • You can also use your hands to pull off or pinch the flower off its pedicel.
  • Make sure you don’t hurt the surrounding leaves and flowers.

Uses of Crossandra Plant Flowers

Being beautiful and at the same time being a lot beneficial is a challenging task for the flowers. Well, that changes here.

Crossandra flowers have many benefits other than just being a set of beautiful flowers.

Let’s look at how beneficial these flowers are to us.

1. Medicinal Benefits

People have been using Crossandara flowers for a long time as medicinal flowers in different parts of India and Sri Lanka.

Scientists have been conducting different tests to use the ethanolic extract from Crossandra to heal wounds.

According to the reasearch, People have been using Crossandra flower extracts as a treatment for fever, headache, pain, etc.

Some people also use Crossandra flowers to treat cold and cough problems.

2. Ornamental Benefits

Other than the medicinal, Crossandra flowers offer other benefits as well.

In India and Sri Lanka, women use the Crossandra flower as a decorative item for their hair.

Crossandra Flower Worn in Head
Crossandra Flower Worn in Head (Source: Wikimedia)

Also, people use the Crossandra flower to decorate their houses during festivals and similar auspicious occasions.

Read more about the benefits of indoor plants in our article “10 Science-Backed Benefits of Indoor Plants

Health Considerations to Keep in Mind

There is no doubt that Crossandra flowers are lovely. However, a lot of beautiful flowers are toxic.

Thank your lucky stars, Crossandra plant and all its parts, including its flowers, are non-toxic.

ASPCA has categorized the Crossandra plant as non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

Cat with a Plant
Cat with a Plant

But still, the flower is not an angel of the plant kingdom. It has pollens that may trigger your dormant allergies.

Also, you must be careful about the following things.

  • If your pets chew on the leaves of the Crossandra plant, they may choke on them.
  • Your pets and kids may tumble the pot of Crossandra and seriously injure themselves.
  • It may have a severe effect if someone consumes them right after fertilization.

If your kid injures themselves while playing around with this plant, seek medical help immediately.

Call ASPCA at 1 (888) 426-4435 in case of pet-related injuries.

Conclusion

Crossandra is a pretty flower to grow inside and outside your home. Although fragranceless, this plant provides unrivaled beauty to your house.

It has its significance and uses that may differ from place to place.

Good blooms, good decoration, easy to care for, what more do you want from a houseplant? 

Go get it!

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