Other than green, my favorite color is orange. I love orange flowers, but did you know there is a houseplant with vibrant orange foliage? No, I’m not talking about the croton plant. Yes, it can have vibrant orange foliage, but I’m talking about a plant that keeps that color without a full sun situation. Crotons are extremely colorful, (see below) but when they are brought into our homes, in my experience, the color fades to a ghostly shadow of what they were in the sun. (Don’t forget about the spider mites that usually find them inside, as well.)

'Tubular' croton foliage

Leaf of ‘Tubular’ croton

Spider Plant 

The plant I’m talking about today is the Chlorophytum amiense ‘Fire Flash’. Below is its cousin, Chlorophytum comosum. Who hasn’t grown the ubiquitous spider plant or maybe you call it the airplane plant? Whatever you call it and whether you have it or have had it, its cousin is much more colorful.

spider plant

The ubiquitous spider plant of old

Orange Chlorophytum

Below is the orange ‘Fire Flash’ Chlorophytum, also called the mandarin plant. I think it resembles the color of cantaloupe, more than a mandarin orange, but either one is a beautiful shade of orange. I have always known it as Chloropytum amaniense ‘Fire Flash’, but after some research, I find some identify it as Chlorophytum orchidastrum ‘Mandarin’. I’m not sure which it is, as it depends on which website you are reading. Whatever the botanical name, it is a striking plant.  Look at those orange petioles!

Not a new plant 

I was given one of these plants back in the 1990s by a friend who worked at a greenhouse. I had it for years, but this is a newer one. The first one got tall and lanky and finally was too far gone to rehabilitate. I wonder if that is just the way it is because this one is also getting long, unattractive stems.

They Flower!

They do flower and make seeds and when they drop into the pot, they sprout. That being said, I’m not sure they will develop the orange petioles because they haven’t yet. Maybe like my aglaonema, I should cut the flowers off so the plant puts all its energy into making more of the gorgeous foliage and it’s not like the flowers are all that attractive, anyway. What do you think of the flowers and flower stalk? 

Baby Plants

As you can see below, the seeds fall, sprout, and form new plants. These have been growing for quite a while at the base of the mother plant, are still relatively small, and also aren’t displaying the orange petioles that the mother plant has. Maybe they will as they mature? You can also see on the left picture those long stems forming on the mature plant as I mentioned earlier. 

Care

This plant resides in an east window with a myriad of other plants, including ferns, calathea, episcia, aglaonema, peperomia, and cissus. It isn’t directly next to the window but back about 2′ and it is doing fine and keeps its vibrant color, unlike the croton would. I think if it were in too much sun, it may burn. I make sure it stays reasonably moist, but it doesn’t seem to mind if it dries out. Like its spider plant cousin, it has beefy roots that hold water and will get it through a short time of drought. 

Concerns

I will admit, though this plant is gorgeous, it isn’t without its problems. It develops black tips, (not unlike its cousin), sometimes black spots on the leaves, and as you can see, the long stems are covered with the blackened leaf leftovers. (Maybe I should peel those off….) Like its spider plant cousin, they do not like the chemicals in city water, especially the fluoride. Though allowing your water to sit over night will allow the chlorine to dissipate, the fluoride will remain. They also don’t like a buildup of fertilizer salts so always water until water runs out the drainage hole to flush them out as the residue can also cause the black tips and spots on the leaves. If you want to avoid these browning areas, use rain or distilled water (never softened). 

 

Though this plant may be an extra bit of work by using special water or having to cut the brown tips off, I think it is worth it. Those orange petioles are just gorgeous to me. This plant makes me happy so I’m going to keep growing it, but I do think I will be cutting the flowers off from now on. I just want more of the orange foliage. What are your thoughts?

Have a great week, plant friends!

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