Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Zone
Zones 16-24, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Cuphea

Lythraceae
Annuals, Evergreen, Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers

These natives of Mexico and Central America provide color throughout the warm months. Use them in small beds, as a formal edging for borders, along paths, or in containers. Reliably perennial only in frost-free areas, though they may survive light frosts in Zones 16, 17, 21–23. C. hyssopifolia and C. ignea have both naturalized on Hawaii (the Big Island).

Pinch tips of shoots for compact growth; severely cut back older plants in late fall or early spring. Easy to grow from cuttings.

Cuphea ignea ‘Starfire’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)
Cuphea ignea ‘Starfire’ (photo courtesy of Annie’s Annuals & Perennials)

Click to Enlarge

Cuphea ignea

Leafy, compact plant to 1 ft. or taller, as wide as tall. Narrow dark green leaves, 1–1 1/2 in. long. The appearance of the flowers explains the “cigar” of the common name: they’re tubular, 3/4 in. long, bright orange-red with a white tip and dark ring at the end. ‘David Verity’ has orange-red blooms. ‘Starfire’ has a pink flower tube and purple petals.

Cuphea llavea (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)
Cuphea llavea (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

Click to Enlarge

Cuphea llavea

Grows to 2–3 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Leaves to 3 in. long. red-and-purple, 1 1/2-in.-long flowers are said to look like a bat’s face. Occasionally spreads by seed in gardens. Though cultivated in the desert, it is not drought-tolerant—in nature, it grows along stream banks in Mexico. Compact varieties (12–16 in. high, 18 in. wide) include ‘Flamenco Rumba’, coral red flowers; ‘Flamenco Tango’, vibrant pink blooms; and ‘Totally Tempted’, bright red blooms.

You Might Also Like...

Jasminum azoricum

Evergreen vining shrub from the Azores. Grows to 10–15 ft. tall, with dark green leaves divided ...

Cyathea cooperi

Fastest growing of the fairly hardy tree ferns (to 20°F/–7°C, but with damage to fronds)...

Begonia, Rhizomatous

Like rex begonias, these grow from a rhizome. Although some have handsome flowers, they are grown prim...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement