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Cuphea nelsonii


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Cuphea nelsonii




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Description

(Nelson's Bat-Faced Cuphea) A tiny snout-like face emerges at the end of this Cuphea's tubular flower and beneath two red-orange petals shaped like bat ears. "Too cute!" is a typical response to these whimsical flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Lance-shaped, mid-green leaves cover the slender stems of this petite subshrub -- a plant with both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Most Cupheas are native to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the U.S. they are perennial in areas with warm winters.

San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate. While some Cupheas have no petals, bat-faced varieties have either 2 or 6.

Cuphea nelsonii is a long-blooming species from Central America with a trailing habit that is ideal for raised beds. It is a magnet for pollinators that grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it is a good houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.

Outdoors, Cuphea nelsonii is excellent for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.

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Common name  
Nelson's Bat Faced Cuphea
USDA Zones  
9 - 11
Size (h/w/fh)  
12"/36"/12"
Exposure  
Full sun to partial shade
Soil type  
Rich and well drained
Water needs  
Average to ample
Pot size  
3 1/2 inch deep pot
Container plant?  
Yes
Our price
15.00

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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
Click on an individual icon for more detailed information.

Exposure

Full sun
Full sun
Partial shade
Partial shade

Garden Uses

Container plant
Container plant

Growing Habit

9 - 11
9 - 11
12 inches tall
12 inches tall
36 inches wide
36 inches wide
Ground cover
Ground cover
Perennial
Perennial

Water Needs

Average water
Average water
Water loving
Water loving

Blooming Season

Fall blooming
Fall blooming
Spring blooming
Spring blooming
Summer blooming
Summer blooming

Wildlife

Butterflies
Butterflies
Deer resistant
Deer resistant
Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds
  • Cuphea micropetala

    (Candy Corn Plant) Due to their bright colors and rich nectar, Cupheas are magnets for pollinators, including butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds. That's certainly true for the orange and yellow, candy-corn colored flowers of Cuphea micropetala.

    The blossoms of Candy Corn Plant are also likened to cigars due to their tubular shape and fringed tips that look a bit like the ragged, smoldering ends of cigars. Sometimes Candy Corn Plant and other cigar-shaped Cupheas are also called firecracker Cupheas, because of their shape and coloring.

    San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one.

    This long-blooming plant grows about half as tall as many cigar Cupheas. Lance-shaped, mid-green to blue-green leaves cover the slender, erect stems of this subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth.

    Aside from being heat tolerant, Candy Corn Plant is the cold hardiest Cuphea in cultivation. It's also thought to be a parent of the popular hybrid Cuphea x 'David Verity.'

    Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.

    Outdoors, Candy Corn Plant grows well in full sun to partial shade. It is a fine edging or container plant as well as a groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution for moist parts of your yard. In areas with winters chillierthan those of USDA Zone 7, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.

    10.50
  • Cuphea oreophila

    (Orange Bat-Faced Cuphea) A corolla of irregularly sized petals -- two tall and four short -- give the opening of this Cuphea's bright red-orange flowers a bat-like look. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love the abundant, nectar-rich, cylindrical blossoms that flower nearly year round in areas with mild climates.

    San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.

    In contrast to the more humorous bat faces of bicolor Cupheas, the blossoms of Cuphea oreophila are a solid color except for some variation in the red of the petals.

    In Greek, oreo refers to "mountain" and phila means "to love." Put the terms together and you have a "mountain-loving" plant. However, it grows beautifully in low-altitude coastal areas as well.

    Lance-shaped, mid-green leaves cover the slender stems of this subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Orange Bat-Faced Cuphea forms a weed-suppressing mat of foliage.

    This heat-tolerant Cuphea grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice. Outdoors, it is good for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.

    Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Cuphea salvadorensis

    (Salvador Cuphea)  Closely related to but distinct from Cuphea oreophylla, this rare species has small flowers in great profusion.  A spreading shrubby grower, it excells in containers where it can be enjoyed close up.

    San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.

    This heat-tolerant Cuphea grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice. Outdoors, it is good for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.

    Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

    New!
  • Cuphea x 'David Verity'

    (David Verity Cigar Plant) Cuphea flowers are hummingbird magnets, especially the orange-red blooms of the David Verity hybrid. The blossoms have been likened to cigars due to their tubular shape and hot coloring that ends with a slightly flared and fringed yellow opening instead of petals.

    Sometimes the blossoms of David Verity and other cigar-shaped Cupheas are called firecracker flowers. Butterflies also love them.

    San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.

    David Verity's blossoms are larger than those of most cigar Cupheas. Lance-shaped, blue-green leaves cover the slender stems of this subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth.

    It's thought that the heat-tolerant David Verity is a cross between Cuphea ignea and Cuphea micropetala. Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.

    David Verity 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, it is a fine edging or container plant as well as a groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.

    10.50
  • Kniphofia 'Papaya Popsicle'

    (Papaya Popsicle Hot Poker) Terra Nova Nursery's Popsicle Series of dwarf Hot Poker perennials are reminiscent of the kind of frozen treats designed to look like rocket ships and fireworks. The blossoms of Papaya Popsicle are a bright orange-red and gold.

    Tidy clumps of grassy, green foliage surround Papaya Popsicle's flower spikes. It is a full-sun perennial that appreciates regular watering but is drought resistant. We grow a number of Popsicle Kniphofias and can attest to their super-long bloom time, which keeps butterflies and hummingbirds busy in our gardens.

    Aside from being wildlife friendly, this easy-to-grow Hot Poker is cold tolerant and works well in Salvia gardens due to low demand for both water and fertilizer. Sometimes Kniphofias are referred to as Torch Lilies due to their shape as well as their fiery look, which helps light up the landscape -- especially when mixed with hot-colored Salvias.

    11.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Kniphofia 'Redhot Popsicle'

    (Redhot Popsicle Hot Poker) This genus has become very popular in the last few years - for good reason. They feed hummingbirds and butterflies. And this superior variety from Oregon's TerraNova Nurseries is compact, free blooming and amazingly hardy.

    In 2011 and 2012 we grew dozens of the new Kniphofia varieties, and only a few stood out from the pack. We love this one for its intensel color that really stands out in a crowd. One of our nursery friends in Portland, Oregon said that it continued to bloom through January, even though the foliage was covered with a foot of snow.

    We don't grow many non-Salvias, and when we do it has to be special. This is one of those very, very good new plants. A must have.

    11.50
  • Leonotis menthifolia

    (Mint Lion's Ear or Wild Dagga) Mint Lion's Ear is a drought-tolerant. It is a clump-forming perennial in areas with mild climates and an annual in regions with cold winter temperatures. As a Salvia companion, it works well as a middle-of-border planting that looks magnificent when massed.

    "Leon" is Greek for "lion," whereas "otis" translates as "ear." The appellation "menthifolia" refers to the minty scent of the foliage, which grows all the way to the base of this non-woody species. Actually, we think the tawny orange blossoms of this mint family (Lamiaceae) member look more like a lion's mane.

    The tubular flowers grow in tiered whorls along velvety stems much shorter than its relative, Leonotis leonura. Crush the plant's lance-shaped leaves and you release their fragrance.

    Mint Lion's Ear is native to South Africa where it is mainly called Wild Dagga -- similar to Lion's Ear shrub -- and is used medicinally to sooth coughs, dysentery, fevers and headaches.

    Pollinators, including butterflies, love the plentiful nectar of Mint Lion's Ear.

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Leonotis nepetifolia

    (Mint Lion's Ear or Klipp Dagga) Here's another plant for Dr. Seuss gardens. Mint Lion's Ear produces intermittent, shaggy whorls of fuzzy, rosy orange tubular flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds love. The blossoms burst from prickly, round clusters on stems as tall and slender as auto antennas.

    As the stems grow taller, more whorls appear. In contrast to Leonotis menthifolia, this variety of Mint Lion's Ear has heart-shaped leaves. The forest green of the foliage quiets the floral heat.

    Although native to Africa, this fragrant member of the mint family has naturalized in the American South where it grows easily in weak soils, such as along gravelly road shoulders. In Afrikaans, a klippie is a small stone, so that may be where this long-blooming plant gained the "Klipp" portion of its South African common name.

    Historically, Africans have used Lion's Ear species medicinally to sooth coughs, dysentery, fevers and headaches. Although some Africans smoke various forms of Leonotis and call it Dagga -- also slang for marijuana -- the Cannabis genus is unrelated and contains different chemicals.

    As to the scientific appellation nepetifolia, it indicates that the plant's foliage is similar to that of Nepeta or Catnip, another mint family plant.

    Mint Lion's Ear grows easily and tolerates both heat and drought. It is a tall, wide subshrub, which means that it combines soft herbaceous perennial growth with some woodiness. Use it as a screen or background planting in full sun locations.

    10.50
  • Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red'

    (Lady in Red Tropical Sage) Lady in Red is a variety of Salvia coccinea Juss. ex Murr., which is often called Texas Sage. It is the best red-flowering Tropical Sage that we grow and a 1992 winner of an All American Selections award.

    The lush flower spikes of Lady in Red draw butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds to the rich nectar of this Southern species and American native.

    Unlike the dwarf variety of Lady in Red, which was bred by the Japanese company Takii Seed/Sahin, this is a full-sized Tropical Sage that the Japanese breeder developed in conjunction with the Netherlands firm of Zaden B.V.

    Fuzzy and shaped like elongated hearts, the dark-green leaves of Lady in Red are heavily veined and have serrated edges. The fragrant foliage contrasts dramatically with the long-blooming flowers.

    If you have persistently damp spots in your yard, Tropical Sages are good solutions due to their water-loving nature. However, they do just fine with an average amount of watering based on local rainfall.

    Similar to other Tropical Sages, Lady in Red thrives in full-sun to partial shade and requires rich garden soil. It is a tender perennial in areas with moderate winters and a lovely annual bedding plant elsewhere.

    Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) existed in the American Southeast, Central America and South American prior to European conquest of the New World. Early plant exploration led to its naturalization in Europe and Africa.

    7.00

    OUT OF STOCK

  • Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious'

    (Golden Pineapple Sage) The bright crimson flowers of this extremely fragrant, shrubby sage are attractive to both humans and pollinators. However, it is the glowing golden foliage that most distinguishes it from other varieties of its species.

    In cooler parts of its climate range, such as in Zone 9, Golden Pineapple Sage grows well in full sun. In warmer locations, it is a candidate for the partially shaded garden. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is good.

    In areas with colder winters than that of Zone 9, this plant deserves a place in the annual garden where it gives many months of service for a small investment of time and money. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds love it; deer generally avoid it.

    Give this flavorful culinary sage well-drained soil rich in humus. Compact and thrifty, it is an outstanding accent plant in borders, cut-flower gardens and containers.

    Native to Mexico, Pineapple Sage grows at high elevations in Pine and Oak forests. The species is used medicinally -- such as in herb tea -- to relieve anxiety and treat hypertension. Just smelling the leaves makes us happier.
    10.50
  • Salvia leucantha 'White Mischief'

    (White Mischief Mexican Bush Sage) Profuse white blossoms and true white velvety bracts make the flowers of this South African hybrid a lovely choice for a wedding. In our experience, many of the plants sold as White Mischief are not the real thing. This tough, compact, long blooming sage is.

    Although its flowers are white, we've noticed that hummingbirds love this Salvia leucantha, which blooms summer into fall. Butterflies are also partial to it, but luckily deer keep their distance.

    Plant this heat-loving herbaceous perennial in full sun and well-drained soil. It is elegant in shrubby borders, large containers and cut-flower gardens. 

    10.50
  • Salvia x jamensis 'Tangerine Ballet'

    (Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.

    Jame Sage is a cross of Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii), Mountain Sage (Salvia microphylla) and, possibly, other Salvia species. Determining a Jame Sage's precise parentage can be complicated, because one or both of its Autumn/Mountain sage parents may also be hybrids. This hybrid-of-a-hybrid phenomenon may be the case for Tangerine Ballet, which is one of our taller Jame Sage varieties.

    Native to Mexico and the American Southwest, Jame Sage occurs in areas where the closely related species of Autumn Sage and Mountain Sage meet, such as near the Village of Jame in Mexico's Sierra Madre Mountains.

    Upright in form with leaves that closely resemble the tiny, smooth foliage of its Autumn Sage parent, Tangerine Ballet is perfect massed as a groundcover or in spots calling for small shrubbery, such as path edges. Jame Sage loves full sun, but tolerates a bit of shade.

    Highly recommended by butterflies, honeybees, hummingbirds and gardeners!

    10.50

    OUT OF STOCK

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I like Amstiad

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.


  1. Go tubular. Hummingbirds need tubular flowers that are easy for long, thin beaks to access.
  2. Provide lots of color. Think of yourself as a cafeteria manager who needs to provide many tempting choices in order to attract business. Red, pink, orange and purple sages are particularly powerful hummingbird magnets.
  3. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based not only on color but also a broad span of bloom times. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons. Numerous winter-blooming species are available for areas that are home to hummingbirds year round.
  4. Grow sages native to the Western Hemisphere. Although hummingbirds will take advantage of many kinds of tubular flowering plants, these tiny birds are native to the Western Hemisphere and prefer flowering plants native to their half of the world.
  5. Select Salvia companion plants. Hummingbirds appreciate a variety of favorite tubular-flowered plants.
  6. Plant hummingbird gardens near cover. Trees and bushes surrounding feeding areas provide protection from predators and chilly, rainy weather.
  7. Don't use pesticides. Insects provide protein for hummingbirds, so don't kill these food sources.
  8. Provide water. Hummingbirds frolic in misters and shallow birdbaths.
  9. Supplement plantings with feeder tubes. Change the sugar water every few days and don't add food coloring. Keep the feeders clean, but don't scrub them with soaps or detergents. Here is more feeder care information.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about hummingbirds.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

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:


  1. Plant sages with platform-type blossoms. Unlike hummingbirds, butterflies can't hover while feeding. Sages with large lower lips and short nectar tubes, such as those in the Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) and Mountain Sage (S. microphylla) group, give butterflies a place to stand while gathering nectar and pollen.
  2. Provide lots of color and sunlight. Butterflies need to stay warm and are attracted to a broad range of flower colors.
  3. Include native species. Insects and plants have co-evolved to meet each other's needs within their native regions. Butterflies prefer feeding on their local, native perennials and shrubs.
  4. Grow Caterpillar Host Plants. Butterflies need baby nurseries. Some are extremely picky about the plants on which they lay eggs, such as Monarchs, which need milkweeds (Asclepias spp.). The North American Butterfly Association is a good source of information about host plants.
  5. Don't use pesticides. They kill many beneficial insects, including butterflies.
  6. Keep your garden blooming. Plant a variety of Salvias based on bloom times as well as color and shape. Many flower from spring into fall. Others are prolific fountains of nectar for shorter seasons.
  7. Provide puddles. Butterflies stay hydrated by splashing in puddles located in sunny spots on the ground or raised up in shallow birdbaths. Include rocks for basking; butterflies need to dry and warm their wings.
  8. Plant butterfly gardens near shelter. Butterflies need to be able to flee into trees, shrubbery and woodpiles when predators appear and when windy or rainy weather occurs.
  9. Supplement plantings with rotten fruit. Some butterflies love the juice of rotting fruit even more than nectar.
  10. Read more. Our Everything Salvias Blog offers a number of articles about butterflies.

Hey, got any greens?

If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.


  1. Mask smells that deer like with aromatic sages. Deer and other members of the Cervidae family, such as elk, mostly leave Salvias alone. One theory is that they don't like the fragrance or taste of sage chemicals. Strategically planting sages near vegetable gardens or fruit trees -- elixir to deer -- may prevent consumption.
  2. Grow hedges including Salvias. Prickly hedges, including hairy-leafed Salvias and exceptionally thorny roses, can discourage deer from entering your yard. They don't like the mouth-feel of those textures. Tall hedges also hide strawberry beds and other yummy plantings from view.
  3. Don't overplant one species. Grow a variety of Salvias in case local deer take an unexpected liking to one species of sage.
  4. Fence deer out. Install electric fences or 8-foot wood or metal fences around particularly vulnerable areas. Make sure electric fencing is turned on during the peak feeding seasons of early spring and late fall.
  5. Use motion-detection tools. Install outdoor lighting that is activated by movement.
  6. Let the dogs out. Deer are especially wary of large dogs.
  7. Surround and cover. Wrap tough plastic around the trunks of trees that have tasty bark and cover foliage with bird netting when trees and bushes are fruiting.
  8. Change yard ornaments periodically. Objects such as scarecrows, statuary and cordons of monofilament string with strips of shiny foil attached cause deer to shy away.
  9. Make safe choices. Research repellants you plan to use to make sure they aren't poisonous.
  10. Be flexible and ready to share a bit. There is no such thing as a completely deer-resistant garden.