Photo by Tony Avent

Few plants garner my attention in the perennial garden more than Dicliptera suberecta, or Uruguayan firecracker plant. If the lavish display of tubular orange flowers set over blue-gray foliage isn’t enough, then the flutter and hum of activity surrounding the plant is sure to attract your gaze. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees all find the nectar and pollen of this lovely plant irresistible.

D. suberecta is native to Uruguay and Argentina. It prefers a sunny location in well-drained soil, and while it appreciates an occasional summer watering, it is quite drought tolerant as well as heat tolerant, easily handling temperatures above 100°F. My personal experience with it makes it a solid Zone 7 plant, and with some protection, it’s been root hardy to -5°F. It will remain evergreen if winter temperatures don’t drop below the low 20s.

I spoke with Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh, N.C., who said, “We’ve grown and sold dicliptera for 30 years and can’t understand why it isn’t a stalwart in both production nurseries and gardens. It grows fast and easy in production, and in the garden, is well-behaved and drought tolerant. The consistent summer parade of orange tubular flower serves as an open invitation for nearby hummingbirds.”

Jeff McMillian from Almost Eden Plants in Merryville, La., echoed Avent’s fondness of this plant.

“We’ve grown Dicliptera suberecta for many years. It’s a vigorous hardy perennial that hummingbirds adore. Apart from the bright red-orange flowers, it also has very attractive blue-gray foliage,” McMillian says.

Dicliptera suberecta would make a great addition to any nursery’s perennial program, and gardeners everywhere will thank you for it.

Why grow Dicliptera suberecta?

  • Beautiful flowers that bloom from July-October.
  • It’s pollinator and hummingbird friendly.
  • It’s drought tolerant.
  • It propagates easily from cuttings.
  • It has soft, tantalizing blue-gray foliage. You’ll want to touch it!

Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust.