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PlantFiles: Firespike, Purple Firespike, Purple Flame
Odontonema callistachyum

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Odontonema (oh-don-toh-NEM-uh) (Info)
Species: callistachyum (kal-lis-STAY-kee-um) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter
Mid Winter
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive GardenDolly On Mar 29, 2015, GardenDolly from Orange City, FL wrote:

Purple Firespike grows well in Orange City, zone 9b. Easy to start from cuttings. Not good for cut flowers because the petals fall.

Neutral vossner On Dec 8, 2013, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

P)planted in bright shade in my garden. After 2 years, it has yet to bloom.

Neutral RustyB On Feb 11, 2013, RustyB from Mandeville, LA wrote:

Very stalky grower. Has exceeded 6 feet in my garden. I have two plants, one in deep shade, the other in filtered sun all day. The one in the shade has bloomed, though it waited until January to do so. Strange! The purple blooms are more attractive than the red species IMO.
I plan to trim them back this spring. Hope that's the right thing to do.

Positive hawkarica On Jul 17, 2007, hawkarica from Odessa, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a very vigorous plant. I started from a cutting and in just two years, it is 8 feet across and 10 feet tall. It is almost always in bloom and the butterflies and hummers love it. I have had no pest or fungus problems.

Positive htop On Jan 13, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
This plant, native to Mexico and Central America, solves the problem of having a shady area where very few plants will grow, much less bloom. In San Antonio, firespike is grown for its beautiful deep green bushy tropical foliage in the spring, summer and late fall and its magnificent purple, lavendar-purple or fuscia-pink blooms (depending upon the cultivar) from early to middle August (Zones 8a, 8b) until the first freeze. The bloom time depends upon in what Zone they are grown. In frost free zones, they may bloom all year and become much larger in size. Firespike (fire spike) can serve as a substitute for the hosta that tends to be devoured by snails and mealy bugs (pill bugs)in this area of Texas. However, I planted light green and white hosta in the foreround around the red blooming variety of these plants, have been vigilantly attacking the snails and mealy bugs and the hostas are doing fine. It can be grown as a tropical container plant. I would not recommend that it be planted in full sun in my area, although I have not tried them in full sun.

They will die to the ground after the first hard sustained freeze, reemerge in spring and grow to more than 4 feet tall. Fertilize them with an all purpose fertilizer if the color of the leaves start to pale in color which is usually only once in midsummer. This plant can be grown in heavy clay soils and wet conditions. The firespike (fire spike) is one of my favorite plants because it is relatively care free, appears to be insect resistant, provides outstanding color in the shade, blooms late when the garden needs some new attraction, is not invasive, but spreads from the base. It needs to be more widely used in south and central Texas. (Note: It is not deer resistant.)


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Sacramento, California
Brooksville, Florida
Clermont, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Deland, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2 reports)
Gainesville, Florida
Groveland, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Key West, Florida
Lake Mary, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Lynn Haven, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Miami, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Odessa, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida (2 reports)
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
West Palm Beach, Florida
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Mandeville, Louisiana
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Blythewood, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Angleton, Texas
Austin, Texas
Boerne, Texas
Brenham, Texas
Houston, Texas
Oakhurst, Texas
Portland, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Shepherd, Texas
Spring, Texas

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