Cuphea is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lythraceae, which contains approximately 260 species. The genus is native to North, Central, and South America, with some species, also found in Africa and Asia. Cuphea plants are known for their brightly colored flowers that are typically long and narrow with two rounded petals at the top.
Caring for Cuphea
Cuphea thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-draining soil. It is relatively drought-tolerant once established, but regular watering during dry periods is essential to maintain optimal growth and vibrant blooms. Fertilize the plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season can promote healthy foliage and vibrant flowering. Pruning or pinching these plants can help maintain their compact and bushy growth habit, creating a tidy and well-shaped appearance. Cuphea is generally pest-resistant, but it’s still advisable to monitor for any signs of pests or diseases and address them promptly if detected.
Leaves and Flowers
The leaves of Cuphea are typically small, elongated, and lance-shaped. Depending on the variety, they can range in color from deep green to bronze or burgundy. Cuphea leaves are often glossy and have a slightly serrated edge, creating a textured and visually appealing foliage display. The foliage adds a touch of elegance and serves as a beautiful backdrop for the striking flowers that Cuphea produces.
Cuphea flowers are a highlight of these plants, as they are usually vibrant and eye-catching. The flowers come in shades of red, pink, purple, orange, and white, depending on the species or cultivar. They have unique shapes, with tubular or bell-shaped petals, and often feature contrasting colors or patterns. They are also valued for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
There are many different types of Cuphea plants, each with unique characteristics. Some of the most popular species include:
- Cuphea ignea: This annual plant produces clusters of thin elongated orange-red flowers. It is commonly known as cigar plant due to the shape of its flowers. At Martin Garden Center, we grow the annual Proven Winner Vermillionaire and it is usually available in the early spring.
- Cuphea hyssopifolia: This species produces small, lavender-colored flowers and is commonly known as Mexican heather. Martin Garden Center usually has the purple Mexican heather stocked during the spring and summer. The white Mexican Heather is more difficult to come by but we bring it in when it is available.
- Cuphea llavea: This annual plant, better known as bat-faced cuphea, is very popular at Martin Garden Center.