Thursday, September 4, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink'

Asking myself what plant I could feature as my favorite this week, I started wondering whether I was running out of plants to present after 47 favorites posts.  However, I could almost hear Loree, the host of this weekly favorite plant meme, laughing at the thought.  I went into the garden and immediately came up with several plants I haven't previously highlighted in this fashion.  What's most amazing about the one I chose, Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink,' is that it took me so long to do so.  This evergreen, ever-blooming plant has shown up in innumerable posts since I began blogging, sometimes labeled and sometimes not.




I have 12 of these shrubs spread around my garden.  They laugh at heat, tolerate shade, and do a fair job at handling drought, although the more water they get, the better they look.

3 Cuphea are grouped together on each side of the front border, along with shrub roses, Coleonema pulchellum 'Sunset Gold,' and Agapanthus

The 3 Cuphea in the front of the dry garden are looking woe-begone after the heat of summer and restricted irrigation but they'll recover once the weather cools and I cut them back this fall


Annie's Annuals & Perennials classifies this Cuphea as indestructible.  It's suited to USDA zones 8-11 (Sunset zones 11-13, 16-24, H1 and H2).  It grows about 3 feet (1 meter) tall and wide and it produces flowers, literally, all year.  I cut mine back hard once a year but they recover relatively quickly.

The pink and purple tubular flowers are about an inch long



It's a bee and hummingbird magnet.  I see hummingbirds feeding at these plants, even the drought-stricken ones in my dry garden, almost every morning.  I took a video of the hundreds of bees surrounding the plants in the front beds but, as it appears that the only way to show you a non-blurry version of it is to load it into YouTube first, I'm making do here with still photos taken with my with my point and click camera, which can't begin to capture the buzz around the plants.

This poor photo, taken in May, is the best one I've managed to take of the hummingbirds with the Cuphea

This was the best of my bee close-ups


Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' is my contribution to Loree's regular favorite plant feature at danger garden.  You can find her favorite, as well as links to other gardeners' favorites, here.


All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

24 comments:

  1. I have plant envy. I'm drawn to cupheas but I think they won't thrive here in Seattle.

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    1. I don't think they'd like snow, Emily. You'd have to provide winter protection and I can only imagine what a pain in the neck that is.

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  2. It's a beauty! The only cupheas that thrive here in the Seattle area are annuals so like Emily, I'm a touch jealous.

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    1. Next time I'm drooling over the plants in the PNW I can't grow, I'll remind myself that at least I have Cupheas, Peter :)

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  3. What a beauty. I can't get over being able to grow ciphers in the ground

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    1. More evidence of the huge difference in our climates, Deanne.

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  4. They are such beautiful plants, shame that they don't thrive here but they do make great annuals or a potted specimen that can be shifted under glass in the winter :)

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    1. They're so tough here, it's almost hard for me to imagine that they're not indestructible elsewhere.

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  5. Such a great plant, and the little flowers are very pretty. It's always nice to have an undemanding plant or two in the garden.

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    1. The Cupheas are definitely undemanding of me, Paula, and you're right - we all need some of those in our garden among the divas.

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  6. I can see why you grow 12 of these in your garden. Sounds an incredibly versatile plant and the fact the pollinators love it - all the better.
    Love the second picture - despite your heat and drought it look incredibly lush.

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    1. The front borders get more water than most of my garden, Angie - the Cuphea in the backyard and the dry garden don't look as good.

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  7. Twelve! Wow, you know a good thing when you see it. As for the fear of running out of favorites I've wondered myself a time or two if a week will happen where I'm not smacked upside the head with the beauty of a plant. So far it hasn't.

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    1. The Cuphea isn't the flashiest plant in my garden - which is probably why I've missed covering it until now - but it's certainly one of the most useful and resilient.

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  8. I can see why you love it so much, what a beauty!

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    1. It gets extra points for its hardiness and dependability too.

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  9. Flowers all year and a beautiful plant ... that attracts hummingbirds. Sounds like a winner to me. :)

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  10. I really should try to grow this again. I'm in Zone 8, after all. Your photos are magical. I love that little hummer.

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    1. I always cut back the Cuphea a few at a time so the hummingbirds have their supply of nectar.

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  11. I've seen these as annuals here but have never purchased them. I need to add them to my list for next year since I've heard the hummers love them. I like plants that laugh at heat. :o)

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    1. I have other Cuphea but the 'Starfire Pink' are, hands down, the favorite of the hummingbirds.

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  12. You've got to love a plant that's classified as indestructable! Love the hummingbird photo. The flowers look like they're the perfect fit for a hummingbird's beak :)

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  13. anything that performs during the drought gets my vote.

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