Crossandra ‘Orange Marmalade’

Crossandra Orange Marmalade3

It’s also called firecracker plant, and that ought to tell you something. This tropical selection puts on quite a show, producing large clusters of brilliant, frilly orange flowers—nonstop—all season long. Glossy dark green foliage makes the blooms pop out and seem even more vibrant than they actually are. 

Crossandra is related to the Mexican petunia, or ruellia, and the yellow shrimp plant—another tropical variety we’re offering this year. Native to India and Sri Lanka, it thrives in the heat and humidity. Women in those countries often pick some crossandra blossoms to wear in their hair, and it’s easy to see why.

Crossandra Orange Marmalade2

These flowers are unlike any we’re used to seeing: they have 5 funky petals that overlap each other. We’ve heard them described as moth-shaped; that’s not the most romantic image (or something we’d want to stick in our hair), so we prefer to think of them as quasi butterfly-shaped. 

Blooms are fragrant and are held on long, upright stems. They’re also very delicate, and can easily be damaged by rain. As we mentioned, they’re set against shiny foliage that provides its own interest; notice that the oval-shaped leaves are textured—they can grow up to 5 inches long. If you’re looking to add some exotic flair to a design, this is a striking plant to use.

Crossandra Orange Marmalade

For all its tropical splendor, ‘Orange Marmalade’ is easy to grow. Regular watering is important—weekly, or more often in extreme heat. Just remember to be gentle, and keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Partial sun to partial shade is best; it thrives in warm, humid environments and cannot tolerate cold weather. Plants will reach 2–3 feet tall, and as they grow they can be pinched back to maintain their bushy shape. 

‘Orange Marmalade’ draws attention wherever it’s used. This variety looks especially nice mixed with purple-foliaged plants, like Ipomoea ‘Blackie’, and combines well with other bright flowering plants. We like to use it poolside, in a large planter with Cyperus ‘King Tut’. By surrounding it with fern and the ipomoea, we complete our tropical oasis theme. Crossandra is also a natural choice for brightening a shade garden, drawing in butterflies, hummingbirds, and the occasional dragonfly for added interest.

Crossandra Orange Marmalade1

We have ‘Orange Marmalade’ in the 4.5-inch and 8-inch pot sizes. FYI—it also makes a nice indoor plant that blooms all year. Keep it in very bright light and mist it regularly—remember it likes the humidity.