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Zones 16-24, H1, H2
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Moderate

Cuphea

Lythraceae
Annuals, Evergreen, Perennials, Shrubs, Flowers

These natives of Mexico and Central America provide color throughout warm months. Use them in small beds, as 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(Big Island).

Pinch tips of shoots for compactgrowth; severely cut backolder plants in late fall or earlyspring. Easy to grow fromcuttings.

Cuphea ignea

Leafy, compact plant to 1 ft. or taller, as wide as tall. Narrowdark green leaves, 1–1 1/2 in.long. The appearance of theflowers explains the “cigar”of the common name: they’retubular, 3/4 in. long, brightorange-red with white tip anddark ring at 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

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Cuphea llavea

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.

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