Cigar Flower is an evergreen perennial from Mexico whichprofusely throughout the summer. The genus Cuphea includes , perennials and sub-shrubs native to the Americas. The name Cupheo is taken from the Greek word, kyphos, meaning ‘curved’ and refers to the capsules.
Cigar Flower likes warm conditions during summer and appreciates being stood outside on a balcony orwhen the weather is sunny. The plant is frost-tender and it should be brought indoors in autumn as soon as temperatures begin to drop and given a cool rest in bright, frost-free conditions.
Cigar Flower blooms from May to September with 25mm (1 in) long. The flower has no petals and consists of a bright red calyx with black and white markings at the tip. The flowers resemble miniature cigars tipped with ash. The plant has characteristically leathery, pointed and grows up to 30cm (12in) tall.
Two other forms of this plant are also available: ‘Alba’, with white flowers, 5 and ‘Variegata’ which has characteristic red flowers coupled with attractive golden yellow markings on P. the foliage.
Other varieties of Cuphea are rewarding to grow. C. hyssopifolia, the False, is the most common and has clusters of pink, or white flowers in summer. C. miniato (C. Ilavea miniato) has red, six-petalled flowers and grows up to 60cm (2ft) tall.
Through The Year
November—February Give your plant a cool winter rest in a well-lit, frost-free place at temperatures of 10°— 13°C (50°-55°F). Water with care, giving sufficient to stop thedrying out, and don’t .
Repot into soil-basedand begin to give more water as the plant starts into active growth. Use a pot one size larger each year until the plant is in a 15cm (6in) pot. Sow seed and take tip from mature plants at this time.
Water generously and feed every 14 days with a standard liquid fertilizer. Keep in a brightat 18°-21°C (65°-70°F), but provide protection from scorching mid-day sun. Mist spray frequently during the day and stand the pot in a saucer of damp pebbles to keep high.
Growing from seed
1 Sow seed in seed compost, during spring. Cover with ventilated polythene and keep at 18°C (65°F).
2 Prick out oneinto a pot when large enough to handle.
Tothe variegated- form you must take cuttings during the spring.
1 Take tip cuttings 5— 8cm (2-3in) long andin an equal parts mixture of peat and sand or perlite. Cover with ventilated polythene and keep in a warm, light place.
2 When cuttings are well rooted, pot on into individualof soil-based compost and treat as mature plants. Keep young plants out of direct sunlight until established.
Pests And Diseases
can attack young and shoots. Treatment: Spray minor infestations with strong jets of cold water to dislodge the . Use a pyrethrum or diazaninbased for severe attacks and repeat as necessary.
Mottled and deformed leaves indicate an attack of thrips.
Treatment: Dust or spray with malathion as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Brown patches on the leaves can be caused by poor light, cold draughts orin winter.
Treatment: Cut back the affected parts and move it to a lighter position and do not feed.
Cigar Flower needs some care, especially during winter when overwatering can be lethal. It can be grown outdoors in summer but must be brought inside before the first frosts. Keep humidity high in warm weather.
- : Use a soil-based compost and repot plants in March and April.
- Water generously during the period of active growth during spring and summer. Water the plant sparingly during the rest period.
- Feeding: Feed plants with a liquid fertilizer every 14 days during growth. Do not feed while the plant is resting.
BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT
- Light: Cigar Flower likes a warm, bright spot with some protection from direct sunlight. Stand it outdoors in summer in a semi-shaded position.
- Temperature: Normal summer temperatures are fine, but a cool, winter rest at about 10°— 13°C (50°-55°F) is essential.
Cigar Flower bears unusual, bright red blooms from May to September. As the name suggests, these are shaped like tiny cigars and have dark tips which look just like cigar ash.
The flowers are produced throughout summer and look like miniature cigars tipped with ash.
- Buy Cigar Flower in bloom from garden centres and nurseries during summer and early autumn. Contact a specialist nursery or seedsman for the more unusual varieties.
- Choose a well-shaped plant with healthy green leaves and plenty of flower buds.
- Cigar Flower is a perennial, but needs to be renewed by cuttings every two or three years. Alternatively, grow new plants from seed.