Scientific: Justicia spicigera (Synonym: Justicia ghiesbreghtiana)
Common: Mexican honeysuckle, firecracker plant
Pronounciation: Jus-TIS-ee-a spi-sa-JER-a
Landscape Use: Flowering accent shrub, informal hedge, foundation plantings, large scale ground cover, habitat gardens, great for oasis design themes.
Form & Character: Rounded, bright and cheerful in flower, sometimes open and sparse if under watered or leggy if overwatered.
Growth Habit: Evergreen, mostly herbaceous perennial shrub, Slow to establish, moderate to 3 to 5 feet in height with equal to greater spread.
Foliage/Texture: Opposite, light green scabrous ovate leaves to 2-inches long, veins pronounced, stems pubescent; medium texture.
Flowers & Fruits: Orange tubular flowers in terminal clusters; fruit inconspicuous.
Seasonal color: Flowers sporadically most of the year, most intensely during spring.
Temperature: Heat loving, cold tolerant to 26oF
Light: Full sun to partial shade, avoid western summer sun. Full shade causes dispersed, rank growth.
Soil: Mexican honeysuckle does not tolerate caliche soil and is sensitive to high levels of salt in soil causing marginal leaf necrosis. In addition, soils must be well drained.
Watering: Will tolerate some drought in Phoenix landscapes, but looks substantially better with regular water....however, overwatering inhibits flowering.
Pruning: Easily manipulated, best to lightly head back during late winter.
Propagation: Easy by vegetative stem cuttings.
Disease and Pests: White flies, and to a lessor extent root rot.
Additional comments: Hummingbirds frequent Mexican honeysuckle frequently when in flower. Mexican honeysuckle is a an oasis or mesic shrub substitute for chuparosa (Justicia californica) when hummingbirds are wanted in the landscape. In Phoenix, fertilize once a year in the late winter with a complete fertilizer plus micronutrients to the improve the overall appearance of this plant.