1068 Cuphea micropetalaCommon Names: tall cigar plant, candy corn plant Family: Lythraceae (loosestrife Family)
Tall cigar plant (like the related but smaller cigar plant, (Cuphea ignea) is a semi-woody subshrub that gets up to 3-4 ft (about 1 m) tall with a similar spread. The opposite, narrow leaves, crowded on the stems, are up to 6 in (15 cm) long near the bases, gradually shortening toward the stem tips. The flowers are absolutely gorgeous: tube-shaped little firecrackers, 1.5 in (3.75 cm) long; orange-red, shading to yellow-green. They are borne abundantly on the branching tips of the stems. Tiny glandular hairs on the flowers give them a sticky surface.
Cuphea micropetala grows naturally along streams and in open woods and pastures in Mexico.
CultureLight: Cuphea micropetala likes mostly full sun, but with protection from the hottest midday sun. It will bloom with as little as 5 hours of sun a day. Moisture: Water regularly during the growing season; less in winter. Once established, Cuphea micropetala is drought tolerant. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. In the winter, candy corn plant freezes to the ground here in my Zone 8B North Florida garden, but returns reliably each spring. However, because it gets a late start, it doesn't start blooming until September or October. In frost-free climates, Cuphea is evergreen and larger, and blooms much of the year. Propagation: Young, fast growing stem tips are easy to root in spring. Large plants can be divided at the roots.
This is another tropical or subtropical plant that acts as a "returning perennial" in mild, but frost-prone climates. Candy corn plant spreads out slowly by rhizomes, but is not invasive. The flowers are stunning in their beauty and hold up well in the vase. Cuphea micropetala is one of the best hummingbird magnets you can plant! Hummers can't get enough of it! Plant Cuphea in borders, beds, along paths, or at the base on the south side of larger shrubs and trees, so it gets sun most of the day.
Steve Christman 12/31/07