Cuphea ignea
Common Name: firecracker plant
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Lythraceae
Native Range: Mexico, Jamaica
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Attracts: Hummingbirds
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12. In the St. Louis area, it is grown as an annual, container plant or houseplant. In the garden, it is best grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates part shade. It is easily grown from seed started indoors 10-12 weeks before last spring frost date. It tolerates high summer heat. It also tolerates some drought, but performs best with regular moisture. Plants can become leggy as the growing season progresses, in which case stem tips may be pinched as needed to maintain good plant form. If grown in containers, plants may be overwintered indoors in bright, sunny locations with temperatures in the 60s and reduced watering. Plants may be propagated from tip cuttings in the fall for overwintering. It is generally best to start new plants each year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Native to Mexico and the West Indies, firecracker plant (also known as cigar flower) is a rounded, densely branched, bushy, evergreen sub-shrub that grows 20-30” tall and as wide. Small, tubular, bright red flowers (to 1.25” long) bloom singly in the leaf axils from late spring to frost along stems crowded with pointed, lance-shaped to ovate, dark green leaves (to 1 1/2” long). Each flower consists of a narrow, tubular, red calyx (no corolla) tipped with a thin white rim and two tiny purple-black petals, all of which is purportedly suggestive of a lit cigar (cigarette or firecracker). Flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for fire.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Annual for borders, beds or edgings along walkways or paths. Container plant for decks, patios or porches. Hanging baskets. Houseplant.