Cigar Flower (Cuphea ignea) is a native of Mexico and West Indies and gets its common name from the shape and color of its small, orange and tubular flowers marked with a white tip and a touch of black, suggesting an ash tip from a cigar or cigarette. The leaves of the subshrub, which can grow up to 2 feet high, are small, elliptical and bright green. The species name ignea is Latin for fire, and the plant benefits from occasional trimming to keep it compact.
Cigar flower is a low-growing shrub-like groundcover that produces an array of brightly colored flowers. From spring to summer, vibrant shades of red, crimson and vinous bloom amid yellow and orange flowers in autumn. This hardy species is easy to care for and drought-tolerant, however it will thrive and be at its most beautiful when regularly watered, especially when planted in the ground. To prevent root stress, water it regularly, and when grown in a pot be sure to keep the soil moist but well-draining. Furthermore, Cigar Flower is particularly attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds which makes it a great accompaniment to any landscape.
Taking extra care of Cigar Flowers during the winter months is advised. Those grown in colder climates should be protected with an organic mulch covering the roots, such as in USDA Zone 9-11 or when kept in a container. When grown outdoors this drought-tolerant plant may also benefit from maritime exposure, making it ideal for those living near the sea. Furthermore, its antirheumatic properties make this species a great choice for its medicinal benefits throughout the year.