Tuesday, July 13, 2010

List: Houseplants Which Have Orange Flowers

Why orange? I don't know. Why not orange? I like orange, in plants anyway. Not so crazy about it for curtains or appliances and so forth. Van Gogh is said to have called orange "the color of insanity" (and he would know); a few little dots of insanity here and there is good. Large, uninterrupted fields of insanity is more problematic, though.

Very few of these plants have flowers which are exclusively orange. In some cases, environmental conditions influence bloom color, though usually not a lot, and in a lot more cases, non-orange varieties, as well as orange varieties, exist. If the flower color is particularly important to you, and apparently it is or else why would you be here, you should buy plants which are already in bloom or get the seller to confirm the bloom color before you buy.

Aeschynanthus speciosus. As far as I know, this species only produces orange flowers, though there are some photos on line that look a lot more red than orange. Also, Aeschynanthus species all look more or less alike until they start to flower, and some of the other species have red or reddish-purple blooms.

Anthurium andraeanum 'Florida' (shown), some other cvv. Anthurium has been heavily hybridized and cultivated, so there are many, many different varieties out there. The most commonly-found are red, white, and pink. Orange, red-violet, and violet flowers can occasionally be found. Yellow, brown, maroon, green, peach, and multicolor (usually red or pink plus green "ears," or white with red or pink streaks) flowers all exist but are quite rare in retail.

Clivia miniata cvv., most cvv. There are yellow, peach, and cream-colored varieties out there, though any random non-blooming plant you buy is most likely to be orange. Photo by Hedwig Storch, at the Wikimedia Commons page for Clivia miniata, because my plant still hasn't flowered yet.

Columnea cvv., possibly 'Early Bird.' Columnea varieties tend to be orange or red-orange, but some red and yellow varieties also exist.

Cuphea ignea. As far as I know, Cuphea ignea flowers are always this red-orange color.

Heliconia psittacorum 'Bright Lights' (shown), and other cvv. Flowers from the Heliconia genus are typically mostly red, sometimes with orange or yellow highlights. H. psittacorum are more consistently orange, though some red, yellowish, or mixed-color flowers can be found.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, NOID cv. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are available in a wide range of color: white, yellow, red, orange, pink, peach, coral, brown, blue, lavender (though brown, blue and lavender are uncommon), and probably others. Red, pink and yellow are the most common around here, but it's not difficult to find an orange one if that's what you really want.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, NOID cv. There are many, many varieties of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, with a wide range of bloom colors. Red, yellow, and orange seem to be the most common, but there are also a lot of pink, lavender, and white-bloomers out there.

Nematanthus cv. Nematanthus are most frequently orange, though cultivars with white, yellow, orange-pink, red, and multicolored flowers are also sometimes available.

Strelitzia reginae. Strelitzia reginae are almost always orange and blue, though there is at least one uncommon variety which has yellow and blue flowers. You're also fairly unlikely to get flowers on a plant being grown indoors. Photo by Lauren Chickadel, at the Wikipedia entry for Strelitzia reginae.

For the recommendations, I like Aeschynanthus, Anthurium, and Clivia, with Strelitzia as an honorable mention.

Aeschynanthus is a little bit difficult: mine bloomed in 2008 and 2010 but not in 2009 (probably because of the move), and it's still a little lopsided and gangly looking. This is probably because it started out as a bunch of leaf cuttings, and is still working on filling itself in (even two and a half years after the leaf cuttings were taken). Still, though, the flowers are very bright orange, they last for a pretty long time, and when the plant is happy, there are a lot of them. Plus for a gesneriad, it's not terribly difficult.

Clivia I like even better than Aeschynanthus, though so far that's as a foliage plant, not a bloomer. One of my two Clivias is too young/small still to be blooming, so I don't mind it. The other, which had yellow flowers when purchased, has not bloomed for me, probably because I haven't given it the cold temperatures it wants during the winter. I'm not under the impression that it's particularly hard to get it to bloom, just that I haven't been able to provide the conditions it wants. Maybe this winter. In any case, it's a nice foliage plant, and the flowers are very pretty, even if I haven't seen many in person.

Anthurium's inclusion on the recommend list should surprise no one, since I'm an unabashed fan of the plant, have had all kinds of great experiences with them, and encourage others to buy one on very little provocation.

Lots of good candidates for the anti-recommend, but I'll go with Cuphea ignea. I have very little experience with them, having only bought one a couple months ago, but what experience there has been has been pretty uniformly negative. All the flowers dropped within a couple days, about a third of the foliage followed closely thereafter, and we're only just now getting around to the production of new foliage (but not, so far, new flowers: I will be very surprised if I can convince the plant to flower for me again). I won't give up on the plant unless it gives up on me, but so far it's looking like one of those outdoor plants that needs to stay outdoors. I could pretty much say the same for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, but at least with Hibiscus you have a chance of seeing some pretty incredible flowers.

Not pictured:
Abutilon cvv. (some)
Achimenes cvv. (a few)
Aloe 'Doran Black' (pink-orange)
Aloe aristata (pink-orange)
Aloe brevifolia (red-orange)
Aloe ferox (depends on specimen but usually some orange)
Aloe maculata/saponaria (pink-orange)
Aloe striata (red-orange)
Aloe variegata (red-orange)
quite a few other Aloe spp.; usually red-orange or pink-orange
Begonia cvv., esp. Riegers, non-stops (some)
Bougainvillea cvv. (a few)
Calathea crocata (uncommon indoors)
Calceolaria cvv. (some cvv.)
Cattleya and Catt. alliance orchids (some)
Chamaedorea elegans (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chamaedorea metallica (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chamaedorea seifrizii (though not particularly pretty, and only orange in strong light)
Chlorophytum 'Fire Flash' (though brief)
Columnia cvv. (most?)
Crossandra infundibuliformis (most; there are a few yellow, pink or peach ones around)
Echeveria cvv. (some)
Episcia cvv. (some?; red-orange)
Euphorbia milii? (a few; more peach than orange)
Gasteria cvv. (most/all?)
Gazania cvv. (not particularly good indoors; most are not orange)
Gerbera cvv. (some)
Gloriosa spp. (some)
Guzmania cvv. (some)
Gynura aurantiaca (though not particularly pretty, and definitely smelly; yellow-orange)
Hippeastrum cvv. (a few)
Impatiens hawkeri cvv. (some)
Ixora chinensis and I. coccinea cvv. (some)
Kohleria cvv. (some)
Lantana cvv. (a few; not a particularly good houseplant in my experience)
Masdevallia cvv. (some; yellow-orange)
Medinilla cvv. (some)
Mokara cvv. (a few)
Oncidium alliance orchids (a few)
Parodia microsperma (at least one variety; they're usually yellow and occasionally red)
Pelargonium x hortorum cvv. (a few; red-orange)
Schlumbergera truncata cvv. (some; pale orange / peach)
Senecio jacobsenii (though not particularly pretty)
Stapelia spp. (some spp.; orange-brown or peach or both)
Thunbergia alata (also white, yellow)
Tillandsia spp. (a few; tend to be more peach than orange)
Vriesea cvv. (uncommon; more red-orange)

Anybody have any suggestions for plants I left off the list?


ScreamingGreenConure said...

Green anthurium flowers are rare in retail? I have an anthurium that has flowers ranging from white to mottled green and white. One of them even has a pink tinge. Weird!

Sunita Mohan said...

I can think of plenty of orange blooming plants but not in the houseplants category. Except maybe some orchids, including phalaenopsis, mokkaras, etc.

Lee said...

If Ixora chinensis and I. coccinea are considered as houseplants(they are considered as such in South Korea), then I think some cultivars can be included on the list.

Liza said...

I love orange. If that makes me insane, so be it. Not a huge shocker.

Anonymous said...

Van Gogh said that? That explains much of the Netherlands.

mr_subjunctive said...


Well, most of them will go greenish before they die, especially the white ones, but it's unusual to see a plant with solid green, freshly-opened flowers. Cut flowers are available in a broader color range, and it's easier to find green there.

I suspect the reason is that green flowers, attached to the whole plant, look like more leaves to people who aren't paying close attention (i.e., almost everybody), so they don't sell, so people don't bother to stock them.


I considered Phalaenopsis, but when I Googled "orange Phalaenopsis," the pictures that came up were either only orange on average (yellow flower with a network of pink veins, that looked sort of orange at a distance), or looked like the color had been altered.

Wasn't familiar with Mokara until I Googled them; a few appear to be orange, so I'm adding that to the list.


I've seen Ixora mentioned in houseplant books before, but I don't know anyone personally who grows them inside. I don't think I've ever seen any orange ones either, personally -- the only ones I've seen for sale here have been white, pink or red.

But hey, if it's good enough for Korea, we'll put it on the list.

ScreamingGreenConure said...

They've been green for around 4 months now, which is how long ago I got the plant. The most recently opened is white, so maybe they just take ages to die...?

Karen715 said...

How about Crossandra infundibuliformis? They are mentioned in the houseplant books, but seldom sold as such. Around here one or two places sell them in spring with the annuals. That little "something different for your containers", don't-ya-know?

Anyway, one did pretty well in my east window last year, growing and blooming away but it turned out to be an aphid magnet. When I found aphids on my nearby Hoya, out went the Crossandra.

I love orange flowers myself, indoors and out. I wouldn't pick it as a home decor color, as I grew up in the 70s, and my ultra-modern mom had a lot of it around. But I do like to wear certain shades.

mr_subjunctive said...


When/if we get around to planting a serious garden-type garden, I want to plant mostly orange or blue-violet flowers; I was really happy with some of the container combinations last year, and I like those colors together. My mom also got a lot of orange stuff when she and Dad got married, so I grew up with orange curtains and orange Tupperware and so forth.

I was always more into turquoise/teal, like Evil Grandma (whose drinking glasses, refrigerator, couch, wall paintings, etc., were all or mostly turquoise), though that's not a very gardening-relevant color.

Rohrerbot said...

We have a lot of plants here in the desert with orange flowers on them that do well...sometimes there are too many plants with the color orange...and one of them that "pops" is the Mexican Bird of Paradise. I think in colder climates, it would be a nice summer plant. I am surprised at how well these very tropical looking plants do in the desert. They actually thrive here.

Rosemary Waigh said...

Don't some people grow thunbergia as houseplants?

mr_subjunctive said...


Actually no, I was thinking of Pentas, not Ixora. So never mind what I said.


Indeed they do, at least according to the books.

Stacie Shepp said...

Gorgeous photos. I too have been loving the glorious orange plants blooming of late. Thank you!

Andrew said...

A few Gesneriads I have pictures of with orange flowers, some species and cultivars of each.


Don't have many orange flowered plants, not on purpose anyway. My mom's not a fan. I like them though, especially peachy-orange (though some red-orange for a big hit of colour can be nice), and even more when contrasting with blues and purples.

telipogon said...

How about Calathea crocata ? Many Cattleya orchids come in orange too.

Martin said...

Strelitzia reginae is a pretty common landscape plant here. The flowers seems to attract a lot of bugs so I wouldn't want it to flower indoors

Elenute Nicola said...

I have a crossandra that is bright orange.

Claudia said...

I'm trying to find out what the heck kind of plant I have here. It has variegated leaves that are about 1-1 1/2 inches - pointed ovals shaped. I've had it for about 5 years, and the other day it starts blooming! The flowers are kind of trumpet shaped at first and then open into an almost snap dragon shaped flower. The flowers are about 3 inches long. Any ideas?

mr_subjunctive said...


Nothing leaping to mind, no. Assuming that you're commenting on this post because the flowers are orange, the closest fits I can think of for that description would be the Columnea in the post or Impatiens hawkeri. Neither one is a particularly good fit, though: Columnea never looks much like a snapdragon, and Impatiens is never very trumpet-shaped.

I'd look at a picture, if you 1) have one and 2) e-mail it to me. You could also send a picture to the UBC forum -- not only would I see it, but many other people would too, which would greatly increase your chances of getting an ID.

Anonymous said...

To get Clivia to bloom. Let really dry out in between little watering during winter months. Place in west window. Give it a good soak at the end of the winter season. Don't let sit in water. Start feeding and watering end February, let dry between watering. Smaller pot so roots are visible helps to stimulate flowers. Mine blooms yearly. Good luck.

insideout said...

Did you forget Chlorophytum fire flash?

mr_subjunctive said...


I guess so? They come and go so quickly that it sort of seems like exaggerating to say that they have any color, but the seed pods live longer and are orange, so I suppose it still counts. Will update.