0

Your Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty.

Upcoming at FBTS: Hummingbirds Love Cute Cupheas

Dec 15, 2013

Upcoming at FBTS: Hummingbirds Love Cute Cupheas

Bright orange, tube-shaped blossoms cover the bush, standing out like tiny windsocks blowing in a breeze and beckoning the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) in the video. The bird whizzes from one flower to the next, in a dizzying frenzy of gathering nectar from a shrub called Cuphea x 'David Verity'.

Similar to Salvias, Cupheas are rich sources of nectar that fuel hummingbird migration.
At Flowers by the Sea, we are always interested in expanding choices for creating wildlife habitat, especially hummingbird gardens. So we are growing a wide variety of Cupheas for sale this coming spring, including David Verity.

Improbably Cute Cupheas
David Verity's flowers don't have corollas. They are orange-red calyxes tipped with pale yellow, fringed ends out of which stamens shoot giving the tube opening a slightly ragged, burning appearance.

The common name for plants in the Cuphea genus is also Cuphea. Some, such as David Verity, are referred to as cigar or firecracker Cupheas due to the appearance of the calyx-flower structures. David Verity's calyxes are larger than those of most firecracker Cupheas.

Although the tubular calyx is characteristic of all Cupheas, many have noticeable petals. As if tiny firecrackers weren't enough of a gimmick, nature has given many Cupheas improbably cute "faces" at the end of these tubes. Some look like bats or tiny mice when you view the open end of the calyxes.

Cupheas with faces have either two or six rumply petals. Each blossom of Cuphea llavea (Bat-Faced Cuphea) has two crimson petal ears framing the purple opening or snout of its calyx. It's a perfect Halloween flower and, depending on your local climate and other conditions, may bloom in October.

Cultivation and History
Most Cupheas are native to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the U.S. they grow in USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 8 to 11, with most species agreeable to Zones 9 to 10. Horticultural Cupheas range from sprawling, low-growing groundcovers to bushes up to 6 feet tall. However, most are petite to mid-height species.

Cupheas generally are heat and drought tolerant. However, they have short tap roots and flourish with regular moisture, so it's a good idea to provide average watering if little rainfall is available. Although known as sun-loving plants, many appreciate a bit of shade where summers are hot and dry.

Irish physician and botanist Patrick Browne (1720-1790) was the first naturalist to collect Cuphea specimens. He found them in Jamaica and described them in his 1756 book Civil and Natural History of Jamaica. However, Cupheas didn't become popular horticultural species until recent decades.

Cupheas for Spring Debut
Botanists estimate there are about 260 species in the Cuphea genus. Here are nine that will be featured in our catalog come spring.

Cupheas with Faces
Bat-Faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

  • Purple red calyx, crimson petals, purple snout

Bat-Faced Cuphea (Cuphea x purpurea)

  • Gold-green calyx, crimson and purple petals, purple snout

Minnie Mouse Cuphea (Cuphea x 'Minnie Mouse')

  • Crimson calyx, tiny purple petals

Mountain Cuphea (Cuphea oreophila)

  • Crimson calyx and tiny red petals

Six-Petal Cuphea (Cuphea aff. Aequipetala)

  • Rich purple petals with corolla appearance

Strybing Sunset Cuphea (Cuphea x Strybing Sunset)

  • Golden-orange calyxes, tiny burgundy petals

Firecracker or Cigar Cupheas
Candy Corn Plant (Cuphea micropetala)

  • Gold and orange

David Verity Cuphea (Cuphea x 'David Verity')

  • Red-orange

Schumann's Cuphea (Cuphea schumannii)

  • Scarlet and purple

Trying to Be Hummingbirds and Do Our Part
At Flowers by the Sea, we do our best to create small wildlife habitat and also make resources available to customers who want to do the same. We want to encourage hard-working pollinators, such as honeybees and hummingbirds, because we are committed to growing a better world and know that pollinators are endangered.

A little story about a determined hummingbird goes a long way toward explaining our perspective. In a video you can view here, Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai tells a folktale about how a hummingbird doesn't give up when a forest fire begins. It does its best to help put out the fire.

Maathai, started a reforestation movement in her homeland simply by planting a backyard garden with native species and interesting local women to do the same. She concludes her story by saying, "I will be a hummingbird."

Please contact us by email or phone if you have any questions you want to ask about creating a garden for beneficial insects and hummingbirds to enjoy.

Comments

There are no comments yet.


Plants mentioned in this article
Ask Mr Sage is one of the most popular categories in our Everything Salvias blog. Here are a few of the latest posts:
Ask Mr. Sage: How to Place Advance Orders with FBTS - Flowers by the Sea is a mail-order nursery eliminating craziness from garden planning with advance orders and customer selection of shipping dates. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature based on calls and emails received by FBTS. This article details how to use our redesigned preorder process and other catalog tools for making sure you get the plants you want when you want them. Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants for Garden Triumph - Planning for Salvia garden success requires following the rule of selecting the right plant for the right place. Desert sages aren't appropriate for the damp Southeast. Moisture-loving ones aren't right for desert climates where they need lots of watering to survive. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery offers tips for selecting plants based on local climate. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: How Should I Prune my Salvias? - Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery specializes in Salvias and often receives questions about how to prune them. Although getting good at pruning takes practice, Salvias rebound quickly if you make mistakes. A key to successful pruning is understanding the varying needs of four main categories of sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: Do You Offer Free Shipping? - Like free lunches, free shipping is a myth. Flowers by the Sea doesn't offer free shipping, because it would require increasing plant prices to cover the cost of shipping. Read more to learn how FBTS sets fair shipping prices. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and notes from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: Best Time to Plant Drought Resistant CA Natives - Drought resistant California native sages thrive when planted in fall. It's easier for roots to become established when soil is warm, air temperatures are cooler and precipitation is increasing. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Shipping in Boxes Like for Salvias? - It's understandable to worry about the condition of plants following shipment in a box. However, Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery is exceedingly careful to make sure your plants arrive in healthy condition. A satisfied customer sent us the photos in this article. Step by step, they illustrate the process of unpacking and hardening off FBTS plants received by 3-day ground delivery more than 1200 miles away from our Northern California farm.