Thursday, November 8, 2012

Odontonema strictum (Firespike)

Odontonema strictum is a great shrub for late summer through early winter blooms. The red tubular flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Also known as firespike or cardinal's guard, this plant grows 3-5 feet tall in full sun to half shade. Blooms appear in clusters at the tips of the stems and the inflorescence continues to elongate throughout the flowering period.
Often, the flower spike will take on a crested form as the season progresses.
Firespike is classified as an herbaceous perennial, since it doesn't form woody stems. The broad green leaves are about 6 inches long, and deer are known to feed on the lush foliage.
Odontonema strictum is native to Central America and is recommended for USDA Zones 8-11. Frost will damage the foliage, but the plants quickly re-sprout from remaining green stems, or from the crown of the plant at soil level.
Plants are very drought-tolerant once established, but thrive in evenly moist soils.
O. strictum is considered to be synonymous with O. cuspidatum.

Related reading: Odontonema callistachyum


Andrea said...

Hi Jim, i have not been here for quite a while. I also have Odontonema and it's been here since time began! I've been cutting and throwing it under the trees and yet they still grow under those very shaded areas, though the spikes here are shorter. I wonder though why i haven't seen the butterflies there, maybe because there are lots of more accessible and nectarful flowers.

Grower Jim said...

Andrea, It's the Zebra Longwing butterfly that I see on them most often. It's likely the butterfly species in your area have other favorites.