You know how sometimes there is just that one plant that you fall in love with? It seems to have everything you look for, AND it grows perfectly for you? Everyone has that specific plant that is just meant to be, and I am positive that I have found mine in Fireworks gomphrena. I believe it is my soul plant. I happen to love ALL varieties of gomphrena with their fuzzy little globular flowers which are incredibly cheerful, long-lasting, and can stand up to the heat of our Texas summers. But there is something about my soul plant that surpasses the rest. Fireworks gomphrena has all these qualities and a little extra oomph to push it over the line from being fantastic to utterly fantabulous!

(So much happiness in one pot!)

The flowers of Fireworks gomphrena are larger than the common variety, and from a mound of true-green foliage, they shoot out like, well, fireworks. Brilliant, fluorescent-pink, tufted flowers tinged with sunshine-yellow stamens burst from the top of long, virtually leafless stems. The flowers themselves also look like, well, fireworks. See how the title of this blog is working itself in here? The plant at maturity will grow 2′-3′ wide with the flowers stemming out to around 3′-4′.  Mine is happy in a pot so the growth is restricted somewhat by the size of my container but I’m planning on putting some in my butterfly garden this year, so I’m leaving ample space for a couple of them. Butterflies and other pollinators will get a charge from the nectar and come for it often. I made a promise to myself to not bring any plants in to my yard that are not pollinator friendly. I get beauty with the plant, and beauty with the pollinators that come to visit. Win, win!

(See how the flower looks like a firework? And each yellow stamen an individual firecracker? So cool!)

Another win is that Fireworks gomphrena is low maintenance. And I mean, really low maintenance, a huge plus for a lazy gardener like me. Sure, like most other annuals, it does best with regular watering. Giving it a regular drink increases flower production, so of course that’s best, but I can be a little neglectful at times and it doesn’t get mad at me when the watering can or hose passes over it for some other thirsty plant. It will let me know when  it finally needs its thirst quenched by showing me droopy flowers. But I give it a little drink and POP…back up the flowers go. Speaking of flowers, no deadheading is required for this gomphrena to continue blooming from summer to a hard frost. No deadheading? Whoop whoop! The flowers just keep coming and you don’t have any extra work. And speaking of frost….now this is not normal, but my fireworks gomphrena stayed in my pot this winter, stayed outside when it snowed, and for some reason came back. As a matter of fact, it was one of my first plants to come back in spring. Again, this is not the norm and don’t hold me to that. But like I said, this is my soul plant and I believe that soul plants can do some miraculous things just to make you happy. (But just in case it is not your soul plant, plan to treat it like an annual.)

(Non-stop blooms for no work!)

This gorgeous specimen looks great as a stand alone plant in a container, or  stunning planted in mass. It’s a taller plant so one would think to position it in the background, but it is so light and airy that it can blend in anywhere.  Like other gomphrena, these flowers also make outstanding cut flowers that last a very long time. They make great dried flowers in dried arrangements. I had some in a bottle for a long time and forgot about them, and even then, drooped over, they didn’t look too shabby (by my low standards that is… you be the judge).

(Ha! I just had to put this one in here….this is literally a month or two of forgetting about them. )

I had to share these flowers with you today. Like any celebration that contains fireworks, they just make me happy! I’m a sucker for any plant that looks remotely “Dr. Seussy”. So these have quickly become some of my favorites. We don’t stock a lot of them, but ask for them when you come to the nursery. And if you are lucky enough to come across them, scoop some up. (We had some 4 packs at Thousand Oaks as of the day I posted this) Let me know how they do for you. I think you’ll be super happy with them. Like I said before, everyone has that one plant that they can claim as their soul plant. Maybe you haven’t found yours yet, it’s out there, believe me. Maybe it’s Fireworks gomphrena!

(Even looks good tucked behind an ear!)

The Happy Gardener

Lisa Mulroy