(Blackberry Sparkler Cuphea) Who wouldn't expect the offspring of Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ignea) to be hot orange? But Cuphea 'Blackberry Sparkler' has creamy white flowers with a subtle multicolor blush of pastels and blackberry-purple tips.
Cuphea are native to Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The genus encompasses a sturdy, adaptable array of ornamentals that are becoming popular in gardens throughout North America as well as countries such as Australia where Blackberry Sparkler was developed. It's heat-tolerant, does well in full sun to partial shade, and is easy to grow but needs well-draining soil and average, regular watering if rainfall is scarce.
Short with a mounding form, Blackberry Sparkler is densely branched and blooms profusely throughout the growing season. Due to rapid growth, it's an ideal summer annual in areas where winter temperatures are too chilly for perennial survival.
In 2007, Australian plant breeder Robert Cherry began experimenting with open pollination of Cuphea plants including C. ignea, according to his U.S. patent application for what is now known as Cuphea 'Blackberry Sparkler'. Cherry developed it from a surprisingly white-flowered seedling he discovered in 2013 and later named CUPP1752.
Hummingbirds are renowned for their attraction to hot colors. However, similar to bees and butterflies, they find their way to Blackberry Sparkler's rich nectar.
(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.
(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.
Floriferous and heat tolerant, Cuphea 'Strybing Sunset' is 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.
(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.
(Firecracker Plant) Hot orange, tubular flowers bloom nonstop during the growing season on our variety of Firecracker Plant, which is identical to the plant sold as Vermillionaire® by Proven Winners®. This is an outstanding clone of Cuphea ignea. Hummingbirds adore it.
(Hummingbird’s Lunch Cuphea) The long blooming, tube-like flowers of Cuphea ‘Hummingbird’s Lunch’ are an intense vermillion red shifting into deep yellow. This is one of the hottest looking cultivars of Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ignea) we’ve seen.
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Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Most bat faces only look beautiful to their mothers. However bat-faced Cuphea schumannii seems pretty as punch to hummingbirds in search of a sweet drink of nectar. If you take a close look at the ragged, open end of each flower, you'll see two, tiny, lavender petals standing straight up like bat or mouse ears. So, despite its common name, Orange Cigar Plant, this species is known as a bat-faced Cuphea. Aside from being excellent for attracting pollinators, Cupheas are becoming important agricultural crops that reduce pesticide use.
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Here are some guidelines for success with this plant in your garden.
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This plant needs or tolerates more than six hours of intense sunlight daily. Many Salvias only thrive in wide-open locations where they receive long hours of full sun. However, full-sun species sometimes tolerate a bit of partial shade. Or a Salvia that loves partial shade may be amenable to spending part of its time in full sun.
In general, this sun/shade adaptability shows up in Salvias that do best in cooler climates when grown in full sun and thrive in hot climates when partial shade is available. So full-sun Salvias sometimes are also categorized as partial-shade plants and vice versa.
This plant can handle extreme heat.
Full-sun Salvias that don’t like any shade are among the most heat tolerant. Heat-loving Salvias also are often drought tolerant. Moisture-conserving features, such as fuzzy leaves, help them stay perky at high temperatures.
Heat-tolerant Salvias are fine choices for western and southern exposures.
This plant grows well in partial shade, such as the kind on the edge of woodlands or under deciduous trees with breaks in the foliage through which dappled sunlight penetrates. Many Salvias thrive in partial shade, including ones that spend part of their day in full sunlight. Some species need partial shade to overcome severe heat and dry soil.
In cold climates, this Salvia is a good choice to use as a summer blooming annual.
Plant it in your garden well after the threat of last frost in your area.
Capable of quick growth and floriferous long-lasting bloom, tender perennial Salvias are a don't-miss addition to an annual flowerbed. Although perennial in the warmer climates of their native lands, tender or half-hardy perennials are planted as annuals in locations where frosts and freezes are likely to occur in fall, winter and spring.
This plant grows well in an outdoor container, such as on a patio.
Some containerized Salvias leaf out and flower year after year following a period of dormancy. Annuals in containers may die back and appear to grow again when they reseed.
During extreme heat, check the soil in container plantings once or twice daily to be sure it doesn't completely dry out. Feel its surface for coolness, then gently poke a finger into the soil to check for dryness.
To create a harmonious landscape plan, it is important to consider the heights of individual plants.
Height also affects function. Short Salvias often make excellent ground covers that conserve soil moisture and discourage weeds while also brightening your yard. Medium-height Salvias, such as ones 36 inches tall, often are ideal border plants. A tall Salvia planted singly can highlight a landscape; multiple plantings can form an attractive screen.
Plant this herbaceous species in the USDA Zones where it grows as a perennial, returning year after year.
After dying back to the ground at frost, herbaceous perennials emerge in the Spring with soft, new growth. A Salvia that is perennial in one region, may be an annual in another depending on local conditions, such as winter temperatures.
If you live in USDA Zone 5, for example, Salvias in our catalog cited as growing well in Zone 5 or lower will be perennial. Those cited as doing well in Zones 6 or higher may do well in Zone 5, but generally will act like annuals coming back from seed instead of the parent plant’s roots.
By considering the width of a plant, you can determine how many to place in a row or what other plants to grow with it.
For example, a narrow, moderate-height Salvia may look good interplanted with bushier species, kind of like Mutt and Jeff.
In contrast, wide-spreading Salvias are economical for hiding lengths of wall and fence or for creating hedge-like divisions in a yard.
Plant hardiness Zones defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture tell you the minimum temperatures a plant can withstand in your garden. The USDA divides the nation into winter climate areas from coldest (Zone 1) to warmest (Zone 11).
However, it is sometimes possible to grow a Zone 6 Salvia as a perennial in Zone 5 if you provide preferential care, such as winter mulching and a location sheltered from harsh winds. In contrast, a Zone 9 Salvia may act like a perennial in Zone 10 if given a bit of shade or extra water.
This plant needs regular watering based on what is appropriate to your local conditions.
In some extremely hot, arid climates, this may mean daily watering in Summer. Although many drought-resistant Salvias survive on little to no watering due to local rainfall and deep roots meeting their moisture needs, others need regular doses. The size and frequency of the dose depends on your climate.
This plant reaches peak bloom in Fall or flowers for much of the season.
It may begin flowering much earlier in the year. Bloom time for some Salvias lasts from Spring till first frost. Others begin flowering in Summer and continue into Fall. There are also Salvias that don’t bloom until late Fall and continue into Winter if grown in mild-Winter areas.
There is a great deal of overlap in blooming seasons for Salvias.
This plant reaches peak bloom during Spring or flowers for much of the season.
However, it may begin flowering sooner. Some Spring-blooming Salvias begin flowering in Winter; others start in Spring, keep producing color through summer and may continue on into autumn and first frost. Still others flower only in Spring.
There is a great deal of overlap in blooming seasons for Salvias.
Honeybees love this plant’s nectar. As a honeybee burrows down into a Salvia’s nectar-rich flowers to reach dinner, it accidentally gathers pollen and drops it on the stigma of that blossom or of ones on other nearby Salvias. Fertilization results in seed production.
By growing honeybee favorites, you attract these helpful pollinators to all your flowering plants and increase productivity
This plant attracts butterflies whether for nectar or as a host for their caterpillars. Some butterflies feed on a limited range of flowering plants and only lay eggs on one kind of host plant. Salvia nectar lures adult butterflies. Placing host plants, such as Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), next to nectar plants builds butterfly habitat. In exchange, the butterflies improve fertility in your garden through pollination.
Based on our experience and reports from customers, hummingbirds (Trochilidae spp.) love this plant.
Hummingbirds exist only in the Americas where their 300-plus species are particularly fond of the nectar in brightly colored Salvias from the Western Hemisphere. However, if favorites aren’t available, they dine on the nectar of most Salvias.
Hummingbirds repay thoughtful plantings by helping to pollinate your garden