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How to Grow Cuphea — Mexican Heather

False heather flower - Latin name - Cuphea hyssopifolia
False heather flower - Latin name - Cuphea hyssopifolia

Mexican heather–Cuphea hyssopifolia–is a small bushy perennial that bears short racemes of light pink-purple, pink, or white flowers atop downy stems covered with narrowly lance-shaped mid to dark green leave to 1-inch long. Mexican heather is a good choice for containers or the front of beds and borders.

Cuphea hyssopifolia belongs to the Cuphea genus which includes about 250 annuals and short-lived perennials. All have tubular flowers either singly or in clusters; most have ovate to lance-shaped leave covered with sticky hairs. Another well-known Cuphea is Cuphea ignea also known as the cigar flower.

See also Cuphea ignea.

Cuphea hyssopifola commonly known as Mexican Heather or Elfin herb

Get to Know Mexican Heather

  • Plant type: Evergreen perennial is sometimes grown as an annual
  • Growing Zones and range: Perennial in Zones 10-11; grown as an annual in other zones
  • Hardiness: Tender, the foliage will be burnt by frost
  • Height and width: Up to 24 inches (61cm) tall and wide
  • Flowers: Tubular flowers are pink, purple, white, orange, and red
  • Bloom time: Summer through fall
  • Uses: Shrubby perennial where hardy; use in beds, borders, and containers.
  • Common name: Mexican heather, elfin herb, Hawaiian heather
  • Botanical name: Cuphea hyssopifolia
  • Family: Lythraceae
  • Origin: North, Central and South America

Where to Plant Mexican Heather

  • Plant Mexican heather in full sun in Zones 2-7; partial shade in Zones 8-11.
  • Mexican heather grows best in humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil. Do not let the soil dry out.
 Cuphea hyssopifolia, Mexican heather
Cuphea hyssopifolia, Mexican heather

When to Plant Mexican Heather

  • Set Mexican heather seedlings in the garden after all danger of frost has passed in spring.

Planting and Spacing Mexican Heather

  • Space Mexican heather 2 feet apart.

How to Water and Feed Mexican Heather

  • Keep the soil evenly moist when growing Mexican heather.
  • Fertilize Mexican heather every 4 weeks with an all-purpose fertilizer.
  • Mexican heather can be attacked by whiteflies, aphids, and powdery mildew.

Mexican Heather Care

  • Pinch away growing tips at planting time to keep Mexican heather bushy.

Mexican Heather Varieties to Grow

  • C. hyssopifolis is evergreen.
  • C. ignea is called the cigar plant, firecracker plant. Slender stems.


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