If you want to bring color and activity to your garden, consider firecracker plant (Russelia equisetiformis).

Pow! Firecracker plant is a large perennial with slender, rushlike stems and leaves that are reduced to little more than small scales. The wiry branches cascade down in lengths as long as four feet and bloom here anytime of year. A member of the Plantaginaceae it is related to the coarse lawn weeds plantains.

Also known as fountain plant, coral plant or coral blow, this native of tropical America and Mexico produces masses of tubular scarlet flowers attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

It does best in rich well-drained soil but will tolerate sandier conditions if water is available. It is mildly drought tolerant and requires a minimum of four hours of direct sun to thrive.

Firecracker plant does well in containers and hanging baskets where it makes an attractive display, but potted specimens must be protected in the winter. This plant can be is propagated by division or by stem cuttings in spring.

Traditionally used as a cure for snakebite, modern researchers have identified it as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.