Friday, October 24, 2008

The Tall and Short of It

I'm crazy for cuphea. I mean really, I could be "the crazy cuphea lady". Why? Cause cuphea are committment-free plants. You just stick them in the ground and they go year in and year out. I have no idea what glories they would achieve with a little more water and some occassional food but these plants are the doormats of the plant world - they take abuse with a smile. If they were people instead of plants they would surely be in therapy learning to stand up for their needs. But alas, they are among the voiceless masses so they just do what is asked of them without a word of protest.

In my hot, sunny yard there are several cuphea that bloom heavily all summer and are also hummingbird and butterfly attractors. In the Charleston area they die to the ground every winter but are always in bloom again by the time the hot weather kicks in and continue blooming well into fall as you can tell by these pictures taking on October 23. These two cupheas are both commonly called Cigar Cuphea but are different varieties - one large and one small. The orange flowers of both are toned down by their maroon stems and dark green leaves which I think rescues them from the brink of gaudiness.

Cuphea ignea, one of several plants commonly called firecracker plant, is the shorty of the two. Mine has never gotten over about 18 inches tall but then again it has had to survive on rain water for survival and is planted in almost pure sand. I'm not always a good plant mom!

Cuphea micropetala, or giant cigar plant, is much bigger. Its other common name, candy corn cuphea, is more descriptive and alluringly alliterative too! This one gets to four to five feet tall.

All the cuphea I've grown do best in full sun and look great even in poor soil and low water.


Jan said...

I love these, too. Wonderful, reliable plants.

Always Growing

Pam said...

You know, I've never grown them! I might have to try this year. Thanks for the recommendation.

Linda Lunda said...

Nice blogg you have!
But where is the gator???
Best Regards Linda :o)!

Annie in Austin said...

Hello Annie from another Annie ;-]

Pam sent her readers to your cuphea post and one post led to another! Your blog is fun to read and your love of plants shines bright.

I've got a few cupheas, too, some of which overwinter here in Central Texas, but unfortunately my favorite red & purple bat-faced cupheas seldom reappear in spring.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose