(Sacred flower of the Incas) Long reddish blossoms with flared, trumpet-like corollas and bright blue pollen contrast with mid-green foliage in the long-blooming, South American species Cantua buxifolia.
To be more specific about color, the flowers are magenta to red-orange. They grow in clusters of 12 or more on these tall shrubs that are evergreen in areas with mild winter temperatures. In its native lands, this heat tolerant plant grows on the margins of forests. For best results, give it full sun to partial shade and rich, well-drained soil. You'll be rewarded with visits from butterflies and hummingbirds.
Mostly known as "Kantu" or "Cantuta" in Peru and Bolivia where it is considered a national flower, Cantua buxifolia also grows in the Yungas mountains of Northern Argentina. Aside from reds, different varieties of the species offer pink, yellow and white flowers.
Cantua is a Latinization of qantu -- the species' original name from the native Quechuan people of the Andes. Buxifolia refers to the shrub's boxwood-style foliage.
Considered sacred in Andean cultures, reddish Kantu flowers often are used decoratively during during holy days. Perhaps because of their sizeable, tubular flowers, Kantu is a word also used to describe musical groups that play Andean flutes similar to pan pipes.
(Shelby Hardy Gloxinia) Shelby's long, tubular, creamy pink flowers dangle from apple-green, leaf-like calyxes. Fuzzy red petioles connect the flowers to deep red stems rising above rich green foliage. This Suncrest Nurseries hybrid of two South American species can handle a bit of winter chill.
Hummingbirds enjoy gloxinias. By planting Shelby Hardy Gloxinia and other hummingbird favorites in a setting devised for close-up observation, you have a front-row seat for hummer antics during the growing season. It's a fine choice for a patio planter or rock garden.
The flower tubes of gloxinias are referred to as having fused petals. Some, such as Shelby's white-flowered, hybrid parent Sinningia incarnata, are barrel-shaped similar to a cigar-style Cuphea. Others, such as Shelby and its second parent plant, the red-flowered species S. tubiflora, have lacy corollas at their openings. Similar to most Sinningias, Shelby's roots are tuberous.
The elliptical, veined leaves are also interesting due to being smooth with a slightly pitted texture and having fine eyelash hairs on their edges.
This is a petite perennial that prefers rich, well-drained soil and locations with full sun to partial shade. As part of the Sinningia genus, it's a member of the Gesneriad family (Gesneriaceae), which is probably best known for African Violets (Saintpaulia genus).
Sinningias are named for Willhelm Sinning (1792-1874) who was a gardener at Germany's University of Bonn Botanical Garden. Sinning co-authored the 1825 book A Collection of Beautiful Flowering Plants, which contained one of the first botanical illustrations of a gloxinia.
(Kristen's Delightful Cigar Plant) Hummingbirds and butterflies love Cupheas. Kristen's Delightful Cigar Plant is a spectacularly colorful hybrid that is also a magnet for gardeners who love the pastels and abundance of its bicolor flowers.
Kristen's blossoms and those of many Cupheas are likened to cigars due to their cylindrical shape, bright coloring and fringed openings that end in a lighter color -- such as Kristen's white tips -- giving the flower an ashy look. However, this plant also bears similarities to "bat-face" Cupheas, due to tiny lavender petals that emerge from the tips and look like ears.
San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because its calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.
Lance-shaped, blue-green leaves cover the slender stems of this Cuphea, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.
Kristen's Delightful Cigar Plant is long blooming in moderate climates where it grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with cooler winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.
Outdoors, this heat-tolerant plant is a fine edging or container choice as well as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving Cuphea and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.
(Minnie Mouse Ears) Floriferous and heat tolerant, Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse' is is also a long-blooming addition to wildlife gardens. Similar to Salvias, Cupheas are rich sources of nectar that fuel hummingbird migration. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies are among the other pollinators that love this genus.
The tiny, bright red-orange flowers of Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse' don't have true corollas, but each blossom has two dark purple petals at its tip, which stand up like elongated mouse ears and form a "face" complete with whiskery stamen poking out of the flower's tube.
Similar to all Cupheas, Minnie Mouse has barrel-shaped blossoms that merge flower with calyx and are called tube-calyx flowers. It is a member of the Lythraceae family and a fine companion plant in Salvia gardens.
Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South. Face-type Cupheas have two to six petals at the opening to their tubes. The two-petal types sometimes are also called bat- or bunny-ear Cupheas.
Other members of the Cuphea genus have no petals and are called cigar or firecracker Cupheas due to their hot colors, shape and raggedy tips that look like they are smoldering.
Cupheas are perennial in climates with moderate winters where they grow well in full sun to partial shade. Outdoors, they are fine groundcover, edging or container plants. Although they thrive with average watering based on local conditions, Cupheas are water-loving plants that can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard. In areas with cooler winters, Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse' can be a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.
(Grape Scented Sage) With the grape scent of its pale lavender blossoms and its long history of medicinal use, it is no surprise that this sage is so widely distributed.
The indigenous Tarahumara people of Northern Mexico have used this sage for centuries to treat a variety of infirmities. For the gardener today, it offers drought resistance and heat tolerance along with fragrance and color.
Although it can grow up to 6 feet tall in its native habitat, Grape Scented Sage generally averages growth of 3 feet tall and wide in home gardens. Nevertheless, it is mighty in its ability to ensure pollination in your garden because...
Another benefit is that although humans and small wildlife find it intoxicating, deer don't.
For a lovely combination, group the lavender and green of Grape Scented Sage with other plants that have strong blue or yellow flowers and which bloom from summer into fall. Give it full sun and well drained soil.
In the home garden, it makes a fine screen, border or background planting. It also does well in containers and cut-flower gardens. Despite its ability to get by on little water, it is adaptable to average water areas of the yard in very well drained soil. It's a winner.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them: