Cigar Plant

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.

This flowering shrub is easy to grow and makes an eye-catching houseplant. Just give it lots of sunlight and you'll enjoy plenty of flowers for months on end. 

cigar plant, cuphea ignea, cigar flower, mexican cigar plantClose-up of the cigar flower. Photo © Iva Villi | Dreamstime.com

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. You'll want to prune it quite a bit to keep it small and bushy, when growing Cigar Plant indoors.

Cigar Plant Problems, Solutions and Answers

Repot in spring when this shrubby plant gets crowded. Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering -- stems will rot at the base if the soil gets too soggy. A terra cotta pot is ideal, because it "breathes" allowing the soil to dry out faster.

Dry, crunchy leaves that fall off is often caused by cold drafts or dry air. Keep cigar plant away from windows, doors, and heat/AC vents. If indoor air is dry, take a look at "Humidity" tips below for easy solutions.

Prune it back. Cut the stems back by half in late winter to encourage new growth and more flower buds. Make the cut just above a node -- the place where a leaf is attached to a stem. Use sharp pruners to avoid tearing the stems. Unfortunately, this vigorous grower will become straggly over time. Plan on replacing Cuphea ignea after a couple years or so.

Something bugging your plant? Aphids tend to attack new growth, which cigar plant has in abundance. Also, watch for spider mites that are attracted to dry conditions in the winter months. Boosting the humidity around your houseplant will help to prevent an infestation.

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.

How to Grow Cigar Plant

Origin: Mexico

Height: 2 ft (60 cm)

Light: Bright light to full sun. 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.

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 when growth is slower.

Humidity: Average indoor (around 45% relative humidity). Indoor air can become extremely dry during the winter months. It's a good idea to use a humidity monitor, rather than guess. If indoor humidity drops, use a cool-mist room humidifier or set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

Temperature: Average room 65-75°F/18-24°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: All-purpose, good-quality potting mix

Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a balanced, water-soluble 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, keeping them warm and moist.

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