Botanical Name: Cuphea ignea
Cigar plant features tubular, orange-red flowers rimmed with white and purple, giving the flowers the look of a burning cigar with ashes at the tip.
The flowers appear in abundance from early summer to late fall. They're about 1 in (2.5 cm) long, growing singly from the axils of the leaves.
This evergreen sub-shrub is fast-growing, reaching its mature height in a year. Narrow leaves are 2 in (5 cm) long and densely cover the woody stems. Prune it quite a bit to keep it small and bushy.
Pruning Tip: Cut the stems back by half in late winter to encourage new growth and more flower buds. Use sharp pruners to avoid tearing the stems.
Repot in spring when this shrubby plant gets crowded. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering -- it will rot at the base if the soil gets too soggy.
Dry, crunchy leaves that fall off is often caused by cold drafts or dry air.
This flowering shrub is easy to grow. Just give it lots of sunlight and you'll enjoy plenty of flowers. Unfortunately, this vigorous grower will become straggly over time. Plan on replacing Cuphea ignea after a couple years or so.
Height: 2 ft (60 cm)
Light: Bright light to full sun
Water: Spring through fall, water thoroughly. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, but don't allow it to dry out completely. Keep the soil slightly drier in winter.
Humidity: Average room humidity.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 60-75°F/16-24°C. If you move your plant outdoors for the summer, don't worry -- it can take the heat. It won't, however, tolerate temperatures below 50°F/10°C.
Soil: Any good potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a high-potassium liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Take 3 in (7.5 cm) stem tip cuttings in summer and root them in moist perlite. Once rooted, transplant them in separate pots with fresh potting mix. Sow seeds in early spring.
Moving your cigar plant outdoors for the spring and summer will give it the sunlight it needs.
Bright light will make the leaves appear brighter and the leaf tips turn an attractive reddish-purple.
Cuphea ignea goes by a few common names and resembles other plants. Look for the botanical name to be sure you're getting this plant.
Some other common names include Cigar Flower and Mexican Cigar Plant.
The species name ignea is Latin, meaning "fire."