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Cigar Plant


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.

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