Cigar flower is a standout plant for the summer and fall garden because it blooms almost nonstop and also attracts hummingbirds.
Cigar flower (Cuphea ignata) has narrow, inch-long flowers that range from deep orange to red. Because of their shape and color, the flowers are said to resemble lit cigars. Hummingbirds love to feed from the tubular flowers.
The leaves provide a nice backdrop for the brightly colored flowers, thanks to their deep, glossy green color.
Each plant can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Cigar flower plants look great when planted in groups or mixed with other plants that produce red, yellow, or orange flowers. They also work well as accent plants in large container gardens.
Cigar flower is a tropical plant that grows as a perennial in South Florida, but may freeze back or even be killed by winter temperatures in Central or North Florida. Gardeners in colder areas of Florida may wish to protect it from freezing temperatures in winter or simply decide to treat it as an annual.
This plant is sometimes referred to as firecracker plant, though in Florida that name usually refers to another plant known scientifically as Russelia equisetiformis.
Planting and Care
Cigar flower is easy to grow from seed or propagate from cuttings. You can also purchase transplants from many garden centers.
Plant your cigar flower in full sun or even in part shade, preferably in a well-drained, enriched soil. It will perform best if it is watered and fertilized on a regular basis, but it will tolerate some dry spells.
Cigar flower plants can sometimes get leggy, so you may wish to plant shorter plants in front of yours to hide the naked stems. For a fuller, denser plant, just pinch back the tips of the semi-woody stems a few times during each growing season. Gardeners in South Florida may want to cut back cigar flower plants at least once a year to rejuvenate them.
For more information on cigar flower, contact your county Extension office.
Also on Gardening in a Minute
- Cuphea ignea--Floridata.com
- Cuphea ignea, Firecracker Plant--Missouri Botancial Garden
- Plant of the Week: Cigar Plant or Firecracker Plant--University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service