Plants of the genus Cuphea include the cigar plant, firecracker plant and the Mexican cigar flower.
As you can probably tell by the common names the flowers of Cuphea are often long and cylinder shaped like cigars; usually of a dark red colour.
That said, some varieties of Cuphea have a wheel shape. They tend to flower from the summer until the first frost of the winter.
em>Cuphea linarioides by João de Deus Medeiros.
Cuphea cyanea by Scott Zona.
Common Names: Cigar Plant, Cuphea, Clammy Cuphea, False Heather, Blue Waxweed, Mexican Heather, Firecracker Plant, Mexican Cigar, Cigar Flower.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial usually grown as a hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 12 to 80 inches (30 to 200 cm).
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 10.
Flowers: Summer through to the first frost.
Flower Details: Pink, red, orange, purple, lavender, white. Tubular/cigar shaped. Orchid-like. Small.
Foliage: Very varied. Fine. Evergreen. Herbaceous or sub-shrub.
Sow Outside: Start indoors.
Sow Inside: Surface. Germination time: ten days weeks in the light. Temperature 70°F (21°C) Three months in advance. Transplant outdoors in spring once the minimum temperature does not drop below 45°F (7°C). Spacing: 10 to 18 inches (25 to 45 cm).
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Humus rich soil. Some species require moist soil. Pinch tips. If growing as a half hardy perennial then pot and bring plant indoors in the autumn before temperatures drop below 45°F (7°C). Propagate: cuttings from either stem or root in spring.
It is best to start growing cigar plants indoors first. They should be planted on the surface of the soil, in a light lit area with a temperature of about 22 degrees Centigrade. Cuphea usually take about 10 days to germinate. They should be grown for a further ten weeks then transplanted outdoors in the middle to late spring with a spacing of 25 to 30 cm. They prefer to grow in a partially shaded or sunny part of the garden that has a heavy soil that rich in humus.
Once the cigar plants have settled they should be pinched back at the growing tips, this will promote branching of the plant and lead to more flowers.
If you require more cigar plants then cuttings from the roots can be taken in the autumn. Alternatively the plant can be grown as a perennial by over wintering the plants indoors.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Cuphea plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Lythraceae growing guide: How to grow Lagerstroemia indica.