Plant of the Month: September 2014
by Jenny Wegley
Cuphea hybrid ‘Vermillionaire’
AT A GLANCE
Latin name: Cuphea hybrid ‘Vermillionaire’
Common name: Firecracker or cigar plant
Flowers: Small tubular flowers
Mature size: 2’ x 2’
Hardiness: Summer annual
Soil: Well drained
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Local nurseries or mail order
This year, when I attended California Spring Trials (a yearly event traveling the coast of California, where breeders showcase their new plant introductions for the following year), I discovered a new Cuphea that I melted over. First, I must say that I love cupheas! Those cute little tubular flowers of bright colors just scream “Texas”! My first stop was Proven Winners, and lo and behold, they were introducing a new cuphea — Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’.
‘Vermillionaire’ is a dark-green-leafed plant with bright orange tubular flowers that bloom all along the stems. ‘Vermillionaire’ was bred for a nice and tidy habit; it does not overtake a bed or container, reaching only 2 feet by 2 feet at maturity. This habit makes it ideal for smaller spaces or for decorative containers.
Last spring I planted ‘Vermillionaire’ in the ground at the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials Garden, and I have been highly impressed. It has taken this sporadic summer weather in stride. Rain or shine, ‘Vermillionaire’ has bloomed its head off since March. Hummingbirds are often found swarming all over ‘Vermillionaire’; they love the brightly colored tubular flowers.
Cupheas are known for their heat and drought tolerance, and Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ has shown that it can do the same. Plant it in the landscape next year for an added pop of bright summertime color, or try it in a container. I would suggest planting it with an upright grass like Juncus or Carex to allow ‘Vermillionaire’ to really show off. Whatever application you choose, remember that these plants do not like wet feet; don’t overwater or leave in standing water. Fertilize on a regular basis to ensure maximum flower power.
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