Plant Description

Cuphea ignea

Cuphea ignea in the garden of Robin Diehm

Cuphea ignea (ht 50-60 cm) is a frost-tender, small-growing shrub that is often called the cigarette plant as its dainty orange tubular flowers have white and black tips that make them look like glowing cigarettes, complete with ash. It belongs to the Lythraceae family of plants and is found in Mexico and Jamaica. It seems to always be in bloom. It may layer to form a wide mound. It will grow in sun or part shade and is useful for a border of hot-coloured shrubs. It is quite drought tolerant and copes well with Sydney's increasingly hot summers. It can be pruned in late winter to keep it compact.

There is a pink, lavender and white cultivar called 'Starfire Pink', growing to a height of 60-90 cm. It is a pretty and long-flowering shrub, and associates well with Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' or Strobilanthes dyeriana to echo the colours of its blooms. Its flowers are also very similar in shape to those of Plectranthus 'Cape Angels' cultivars, and the purple form of this would make a good companion. 'Starfire Pink' flowers best in sun but will cope with a little shade. It is apparently suited to pot culture. It can be tricky to grow from cuttings; try layering some stems to propagate it. All Cuphea need to be replaced with a new specimen every few years, when they lose their vigour.


Cuphea ignea
Out now in my Sydney garden.
Flowers all year.
Plant Family: Lythraceae

Sponsor messages