The firecracker flower or tropical flame which is commonly called as ‘Kanakambaram’ in Malayalam is known for its beauty and colour. Its scientific name is Crossandra infundibuliformis. Firecracker flower is used to adorn hairdo in South Indian states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Firecracker is an evergreen plant that grows upto a height of one metre. About 30-35 degree Celsius atmospheric temperature is ideal to ensure better growth of firecracker plant and attractive colour of the flowers.
The flowers are normally found in varieties of yellow, orange and red. But white and purple varieties also are found nowadays. Though flowers are not fragrant like jasmine flower, firecracker flower is noted for its attractive colour. It blooms all year around and its flowers are used for adorning hair and for rituals in temples.
Firecracker flower is cultivated on industrial scale in Africa and Asia. The variety used for cultivation is featured with dark green stem and leaves. It grows well within three months and flowers are bright coloured. The variety known as ‘Delhi’ is more popular among the farmers.
Firecracker can be propagated by sowing sprouted seeds or planting rooted stem cuttings.
Finely crush soil and mix it with equal amount of cow dung powder, neem cake and sand.
Moisten the soil and sow the seeds in it. Seeds will sprout within five days.
Try stem cuttings for the varieties that cannot be propagated through seeds.
Only well-rooted stem cuttings should be planted.
After 45 days of planting or 4-5 pairs of new shoots emerge, replant the saplings.
Saplings can be planted in flowerpots or flowerbeds at a distance of 1.5 feet.
While replanting, ensure the soil is properly fertilised and sunlight is available aplenty.
Add cow dung powder in the soil at the bottom of the plant every 15 days.
Do not let the water make a puddle at the bottom of the plant.
Water the plant on alternate days during summer and pile up soil at the bottom during monsoon.
Flowers bloom within three months of planting. The flower bunches emerge from the end of leaves.
Pluck the flowers in early morning on alternate days. Only low harvest will be available in monsoon.
Proper irrigation and fertilisation during summer ensures harvest throughout the year.
Flowers have four petals and the seeds are yellow or black in colour.
Neither the flower nor the seeds have any distinct aroma.
The price of firecracker flower rises upto Rs 500 per kg during seasons.
Normally, firecracker plant is resistant to diseases and insect attacks.
It is ideal to use organic pesticides and fertilisers for pest control and disease prevention.
Neem-based pesticides are good for firecracker plants.
Apart from being an ornamental plant in the garden, firecracker can give the farmers an attractive turnover as well.