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Plant Profile: Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)

Also known as false heather and elfin herb, this small evergreen sub-shrub is native to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.  It is a member of the loosestrife family, Lythraceae, that also includes crepe myrtle, pomgranate, and henna, and is not a true heather or even in the same family.  Growing 1-3′ tall plants are well branched and have  densely packed, linear to lance-shaped, dark green leaves that are up to 1″ long and may have slightly wavy margins.  The 6-petaled, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in the axils of the leaves from early summer to frost and are usually pale lilac with lavender veins but white and pink cultivars are available.  The flowers are attractive to both hummingbirds and butterflies.  Mexican heather is attractive in the border as well as in a container looks well with fountain grass, hibiscus, mandeveilla, and phormium.   The genus name, Cuphea, comes from the Greek word kyphos meaning curved and refers to the curved seed capsule. The specific epithet, hyssopifolia, comes from the name of the hyssop plant and the Latin word folium, meaning leaf, and refers to the resemblance of the leaf to that of the hyssop plant. 

Type: Flowering evergreen sub-shrub

Outstanding Feature: Flowers

Form: Rounded

Growth Rate: Moderate to rapid


Size: 1-2′ H x 3′ W

Light:Full sun, partial shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 9-11

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, cuttings, layering, division

Outstanding Selections:

‘Alba” (white flowers)

‘Allyson’ (pink lavender flowers, 12-15″ tall)

‘Linda Downer’ (white flowers)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia