Cuphea

Cuphea
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
batface cuphea
Credit: Andrew Drake
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batface cuphea

Cuphea

Cuphea is a low-maintenance annual that blooms from late spring until frost without needing deadheading. While the flowers of this plant may be small, they more than make up for size in quantity. Another bonus: Cuphea has become more available at garden centers in recent years, so finding it is not usually a problem.

genus name
  • Cuphea
light
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • From 1 to 3 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
zones
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
propagation

Colorful Combinations

Cuphea comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and flower sizes. Its small, often tubular blossoms wear shades of orange, bright yellow, red, white, purple, and neon pink in differing combos. Many of these flowers feature large modified petals that give the appearance of ears. Up close, the flowers can resemble mice or bats, hence its common names mouse flower and bat flower. Because of its small size and dense habit, cuphea makes the perfect addition to mixed containers and garden plantings without diminishing the effects of other plants. Cuphea attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Cuphea Care Must-Knows

Native to the Americas, cuphea thrives in the heat of summer. While it prefers consistent moisture throughout the growing season, it does need  well-drained soil. Once this plant is established, it can tolerate drought and continue to impress with its large number of flowers. Fertilize cuphea regularly throughout the summer for the best, biggest, and most consistent display.

Although some varieties may tolerate part shade, this annual likes full sun best. Full sun keeps cuphea (especially older varieties) from getting lanky and promotes the greatest number of blooms. Occasional pruning will help encourage a flush of new growth, as well as keep the plant looking nicely maintained.

New Innovations

Even though there are more than 250 species in the family, cuphea is still considered a relative newcomer in the world of ornamental horticulture. In the past few years, breeders have introduced new varieties that create larger, showier flowers on plants with the same excellent heat tolerance and longevity as before. Ongoing research on the use of this plant for oilseed production seeks to lessen reliance on coconut and palm oils, which destroys tropical habitats. Additional research shows promising results for use of cuphea as a rotational crop; it appears that wheat and corn yields increase when those grains are grown after a year of raising cuphea.

More Varieties of Cuphea

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David Verity cigar flower Cuphea
Credit: Denny Schrock

'David Verity' cigar flower

Cuphea ignea 'David Verity' offers tube-shape orange flowers all summer long on 36-inch-tall plants.

cuphea micropetala cigar plant
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Candy corn plant

Cuphea micropetala  (candy corn plant) is a Mexican species of cuphea that can grow 3 feet tall and wide with stems covered in yellow and orange flowers loved by hummingbirds. Zones 7-10

cuphea llavea bat face blooms
Credit: Denny Schrock

'Flamenco Samba' cuphea

Cuphea llavea 'Flamenco Samba' has rich, burgundy flowers  that exhibit exceptionally large and showy petals that bloom all season long. Zones 9-10

Mexican heather Cuphea hyssopifolia
Credit: Scott Little

Mexican heather

Cuphea hyssopifolia bears lavender-pink flowers on 24-inch-tall plants.

batface cuphea
Credit: Andrew Drake

'Tiny Mice' mouse flower

Cuphea llavea 'Tiny Mice' bears crimson-red flowers on 18-inch-tall plants.

Cuphea Minnie Mouse flower
Credit: Lynn Karlin

'Minnie Mouse' cuphea

Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse' offers orange-and-purple flowers on a plant that grows 36 inches tall.

Vermillionaire Cuphea
Credit: Blaine Moats

'Vermillionaire' cuphea

Cuphea 'Vermillionaire' boasts hundreds of yellow-orange flowers are borne continuously all season long for an amazing display of color. Zones 8-11

Cuphea llavea Totally Tempted
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Totally Tempted' mouse flower

Cuphea llavea 'Totally Tempted' bears large crimson-pink flowers on 12-inch-tall plants.

Cuphea Companion Plants

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