One of my favorite annuals, Cuphea 'Bat Face', is taking center stage in my garden right now. Cupheas are a genus of over 250 annuals and short-lived perennials that originate mostly from Mexico and Guatemala. My first experience with these floriferous plants was Cuphea 'David Verity' in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park about 15 years ago. C. 'David Verity' is one of the most vigorous of the so-called cigar plants. They got their common name because the 1 inch tubular orange flowers resemble cigars. C. 'David Verity grows about two fee tall. C. 'Bat Face' is a stockier plant growing about 18" tall. The curious flowers are purple and bright carmine and on close examination look like little bat faces.
Cuphea 'Bat Face' is an excellent front-of -the border plant and flowers all summer without dead-heading. This year, I also tried it in a planter which worked extremely well. An added bonus is that cupheas are hummingbirds magnets and it is always a delight to see them hovering over a sea of miniature bats.