Botanical name: Cuphea Ignea
Common names: Cigar flower, cigarette plant, firecracker plant.
Description: Grows to about 3 feet in height with a similar spread. Leaves are lance shaped or narrowly elliptical and dark green measuring 1 – 1.5 inches in length and 0.25-0.5 wide. Leaves are arranged oppositely on the stems and flowers arise from the base of the leaves. Stems themselves are slender semi-woody, and brittle. The branching stems impart a dense, compact from that become leggy late in the season. Flowers are one inch long and skinny with orange tubular shape. Flowers extend a thin threadlike pistil that looks like a fuse. Flowers are about the same size as small firecracker. Firecracker plant typically refers to Russelia equisetiformis, a plant with similarly shaped flowers.
Habit: Easy and fast growing. No unusual feed requirements and few pest problems.
Location: Native to Mexico and the island of the West Indies, but is popularity is on the rise among gardeners everywhere now.
Culture: Pinch back the tips occasionally to maintain a dense compact shape.
Light: Bright sun but tolerates some shade.
Moisture: Cigar plants like moisture but will endure short dry spells.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 – 12. Grown as an annual in Zones 8 – 0 where it may be killed back to the roots but usually returns.
Propagation: Easily grown from seed, also short stem tip cuttings taken in later spring or early summer.
Usage: Bright color through the summer. Use it in masses to provide a backdrop for shorter plants in the perennial bed or in large containers. Its fast growth rate will ensure a long flowering season. Use cigar plant’s orange with its close cousin, Mexican false heather’s, Cuphea hyssopifolia, purple to create a combination of complementary colors. False heather is shorter and can help hide the cigar plant’s leggings.
Notes: Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Ignea is Latin for fire. Plant this colorful plant in the spring.