CUPHEA IGNEA (Mexican cigar plant)

7 deg C/45 deg F

This is a very easy and delightful species sometimes used for outdoor bedding. Recently, it has been sold as a house-plant, the plants usually being in the form of seedlings coming into flower during spring.

This is remarkable for its long flowering period. Seeds sown early in the year start flowering at a very early stage, and continue well into autumn. It is an extremely neat and compact little plant, forming a dainty, miniature shrub with a branching habit. The leaves are

small and in keeping with its size, and the black-and-white tipped brilliant-scarlet flowers are borne in profusion. The flowers are tubular and 2.5cm (I in) long.

Seedlings should be potted into 13cm (5in) pots, using any of the modern potting composts. It is very easy to raise plants from seed on a window-sill. Germinate at about L8 deg C (65 deg F). No stopping or support is needed and the plants can be left to grow naturally. They will do well in a bright position or slight shade, but good light produces the best flowers.

This Mexican species is evergreen and can be kept during the winter at the minimum recommended temperature. However, better specimens which are free-flowering can be obtained by raising young plants from seed each year. In autumn, the flowers often scatter their seed and this can be collected by placing a sheet of white paper under the plant.

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