Common Names: Cigar Plant, Cuphea, Clammy Cuphea, False Heather, Blue Waxweed, Mexican Heather, Firecracker Plant, Mexican Cigar, Cigar Flower. Family: Lythraceae. Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial usually grown as a hardy annual by gardeners. Height: 12 to 80 inches (30 to 200 cm). Native: Americas.
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.
How to Grow Cigar Plant and other Cuphea
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 seeds usually take about 10 days to germinate. They should be grown for a further ten week,s then transplanted outdoors in the middle to late spring with a spacing of 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches).
They prefer to grow in a partially shaded or sunny part of the garden that has a heavy soil that rich in humus.
Caring for Cuphea species such as Cigar plants in the Garden
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.