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Care of the plant Odontonema strictum or Firespike.

Care of the plant Odontonema strictum or Firespike

The genus Odontonema, family Acanthaceae, comprises 16 species of shrubs and perennials native to South and Central America. Some species are: Odontonema strictum, Odontonema brevipes, Odontonema laxum, Odontonema nitidum.

Common names: Firespike, Cardinal Guard, Scarlet Flame. This species is native to South America.

They are evergreen shrubs with erect bearing and long branches that reach 2 meters in height. The large leaves (8-12 cm long) are oval, opposite, and bright green. They produce terminal panicles with attractive red tubular flowers. They usually bloom in late summer and early fall.

They are used in pots as terrace, greenhouse or indoor plants and to form shrubby groups in gardens with a tropical or subtropical climate. They are also used as cut flowers for bouquets and floral decorations.

Odontonema strictum needs semi-shade exposure in Mediterranean climates and in full sun if the sun is not very intense. It's a tropical plant that does not resist cold below 10 ºC.

The soil must contain abundant organic matter, be well drained, and be fresh and soft. Transplantation is better to do in spring.

Water regularly, waiting for the substrate surface to dry; water 2-3 times a week in summer.

Fertilize with manure in late winter and every 15 days with mineral fertilizer during spring and summer.

Prune lightly after flowering to maintain compact growth and increase flower numbers.

They can be attacked by fungi if there is excess watering and by mealybugs and aphids if the humidity is low (especially in summer).

They are easily propagated from cuttings in spring.

Images of the plant Odontonema strictum or Firespike

Odontonema strictum
Odontonema strictum
Odontonema strictum
 

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