All about Cuphea

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These natives of Mexico and Central America are definitely frost-tender, although they may survive light frosts in Sunset zones 16-17. All attract hummingbirds. They can take full sun or part shade and regular water. They should be cut back in early spring.

Most of us are familiar with Cuphea hyssopifolia, ‘Mexican Heather’. This woody evergreen perennial grows 1-2 feet tall, and to about 2 ½ feet wide. It carries its tiny flowers along the stem, blossom colors range from pink, purple, white and orange. The tidy well-behaved growth habit makes it ideal for use in small beds, formal edging for borders, along paths and in containers. This plant would look nice paired with nepeta, cosmos, stachys, Achillea ‘Moonshine’, tanacetum, penstemon, nicotiana, and gaura.

Cuphea ignea “Cigar Plant’ is another compact grower, it can grow to 1 foot or taller, and as wide. The ‘cigar’ refers to the shape of the orange-red tubular blossoms carried at the end of the stems. Adorable! These would like mixed with zinnias, lantana, rudbeckia, salvia ‘East Friesland’, diascia, and nemesia.

Cuphea llavea, ‘Bat-Faced Cuphea’ can grow 2-3 feet tall, and 3 feet wide. This plant is not drought-tolerant, it grows along stream banks in Mexico. Use Zeba granules when planting to get it off to a good start. The red-and-purple 1½ inch long flowers are where the name comes from, compact varieties have both coral-red and vibrant pink blossoms. They can be planted with Hypericum “Tricolor’, Agastache, Salvia uliginosa, Carex testacea, mimulus, crocosmia, alstroemeria, scented geraniums, and asclepias.

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