Use sharp shears to trim the firecracker plant in early spring.

How to Trim a Firecracker Fern

by Melissa Lewis

A heat-tolerant shrub that grows in the warm climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 12, firecracker fern (Russelia equisetiformis), also known as coral plant, has a free-flowing, cascading habit. It blooms three seasons out of the year, producing red flowers that resemble firecrackers. Easy to grow in partial shade to full sun, a firecracker fern -- sometimes simply referred to as firecracker -- benefits from a good trimming each year, as well as regular deadheading.

Snip the stems, just under a cluster of spent flowers, with a pair of pruning shears from spring until fall to keep a firecracker fern attractive and from producing seed. The energy it saves from not making seed will go toward more flowers and growth.

Remove up to one-third of the shrub in early spring before it flowers to control its size and spread. Do not attempt to shape a firecracker fern, because it will not work, notes Arizona State University.

Pick up the spent firecracker fern flowers and trimmings and add them to your compost pile or garden waste can. Garden debris can harbor pests and diseases, so it's always best to remove it.

Items you will need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Rag


  • Disinfect your pruning shears by wiping them with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol. This prevents the spread of diseases in the garden.

About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Photo Credits

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