Gardening secrets: How to Grow Cuphea or Kufiya in your garden
Talk about summer color! Cuphea produces fiery hot blooms all summer long. This Mexican native works well as a bedding plant or in mixed containers with annual bloomers. Throughout most of the country, cuphea is grown as an annual, but in frost-free regions it is perennial in nature. Cuphea forms a busy mound layered with nectar-rich flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. The plant offers excellent heat and drought tolerance, making it a wonderful choice for first-time gardeners.
Both sides of the color wheel are represented, from warm and spicy reds and oranges to cool pink, lavender, and purple tones. Cultivars with pure white blooms are also available. The blooms are typically tubular in shape, but some sport ear-shaped petals that give them the whimsical appearance of tiny mice, bats, or bunnies.
Where to plant:
In full sun or part shade in compost-rich, well-drained soil. Where summers are hot and dry, cupheas benefit from a bit of shade.
When to plant:
In late spring, after all danger of frost has passed.
Growing from seed:
You can sow seeds directly in the garden after the soil has warmed in the spring or start seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. Seeds need light for germination, so don’t cover them up with soil; just press them lightly into the surface. Keep the soil moist until germination occurs, usually within 8 to 10 days.
Although cupheas are easy to start from seed, the seeds won’t germinate outdoors in temperatures below 70° F. Unless you live in a temperate climate, you’ll have better results purchasing container-grown plants or starting seeds indoors.
Water regularly until plants become well established, keeping the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Once they take root, plants can tolerate drier growing conditions.
To keep your cuphea plants flowering vigorously all season, fertilize them regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer, or once in the spring with a slow-release granular fertilizer. Potted plants may need more frequent applications.
Pruning and deadheading:
Cupheas are self-cleaning, so no deadheading is needed to ensure continuous flower production. If you want to make your plants bushier and more compact, you can prune or pinch them back in late spring to encourage more branching and, in turn, more flowers.
Common pests and problems:
Although cupheas are generally pest resistant, they may occasionally be bothered by Japanese beetles, whiteflies, and aphids.