Family Lythraceae

Commonly known as the Mexican cigar flower, Cuphea igtiea is an unusual plant which has a delicate charm. It flowers for a long period of time during the summer months, producing a continuous succession of flowers which are tubular, orange-scarlet in colour, about 1 in (2.5 cm) long, with ash-grey tips; the whole appearance is reminiscent of a miniature cigar. The plant will grow bushy if any straggly growth is checked, by pinching out the growing points, and, fully grown, is about 9 - 12 in (23-30 cm) high.

Cupheas can be grown from seed sown in spring, at a temperature of 65-70°F (18-21°C), when germination should take about 14 to 21 days. Alternatively, unless you are requiring a lot of plants, it is easier to purchase a well-grown plant and propagate as many plants as you require, the following spring.

CULTIVATION

Propagation, by cuttings, is carried out by selecting the strongest growing shoots and taking 2-2Vi-w (5-6-cm) long tip cuttings, severing the stem below a leaf node. Remove all but the top two pairs of leaves and insert the stem about '/j in {13 mm) deep in the rooting compost, after dipping the stem in a hormone rooting powder. Take cuttings in spring and keep enclosed under a plastic dome or a plastic bag until the cuttings can be left exposed without flagging. When the cuttings have rooted pot them in compost E6, or equivalent, in 3Va-in (9-crn) pots and later in 4!/j — 5-in (11.5- I3-cm) pots as required. Cuphcas will survive in a normal living room temperature, in the summer months, and should be placed in a well-lit situation, as they benefit from direct sunshine.

Plants should be overwintered at 50-55°F (10- 1 3°C) and will tolerate a temperature as low as 45°F(7°C).

Cuttings can be taken in summer, and the following year will produce larger plants earlier in the season than those obtained from spring cuttings. The difficulty of taking summer cuttings lies in overwintering the young plants which require a higher temperature than mature plants if they are to survive. It is better to raise a few new plants each year than to grow plants on for a second year.

Cuphea tgmui is known as ihe Mexican Cigar Flower, because of the shape and appearance of in flower.

Cuphea tgmui is known as ihe Mexican Cigar Flower, because of the shape and appearance of in flower.

Flowering Pot Plants
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