The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Holy Cuphea Going Gangbusters, Batman

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.


  1. I just hope I can remember the name next spring.

  2. Thanks, CG.

    James, it doesn't look like much when it isn't in flower, but when you see 'Bat Face' I hope it will come back to you. I keep a gardening journal and right about now, I make a list of annuals I want again and perennials I want to try next year. I do the same thing in the spring to prompt me to remember which bulbs I'd like and remind me where to plant them.. It is especially helpful organizing what I hope to do in the public gardens. The extra effort is really worth it.

  3. I didn't know you had hummingbirds in your part of the world, Michael...that'd be reason enough to grow Cuphea.

  4. They are still floating around the garden, Faisal. I was surprisd they liked 'Bat Face' so much. I can't imagine them migrating--I don't know how they do it!

  5. Hi Michael! The Cuphea looks great! I love the "spiky" appearance of all those red tips up against the tightly clipped boxwood spheres! A Great look!-- Joe

  6. Thanks, Joe. A nice texture and color contrast. I just read about one called 'Minnie Mouse' ( not to be confused with 'Tiny Mice' which is a little less than 18" tall. I've tried it but like 'Bat Face' better) which gets 3 feet tall. Looks like one to try.

  7. So interesting how plants behave in different regions. I grow batface cuphea here (Austin) as a perennial and it amazes me every summer. It has not only survived the extreme drought we're in but thrives! It has flowered non-stop all summer. I did cut it back in August as it was getting a little tired and leggy. It's now getting its second wind in our second growing season of fall. Mine gets taller here too - I guess because our season is so much longer...My first visit to your blog was enjoyable - thanks! Cat

  8. Hi Cat,
    I had no idea it was a perennial in TX, but it makes a lot of sense. You are very fortunate to have it return each year. Thanks for commenting.

  9. Oh please, please help me with my batface. I'm in the hill country too (north shore of Lake Travis. I put 2 beautiful plants out in May and now they look so sad. They get plenty of sun and are watered regularly. I have 2 more batface plants in Houston that are growing like crazy. What amI doing wrong?

    1. Several of the plants I bought were stressed, possibly diseased, when I bought them. The nursery said they would snap out of it once they were established--some did , some didn't. We had a lot of rain here in NH. I wonder if the plants came with some sort of disease from the source or if there was too much and/or both. Hopefully next year will be better because I love this plant. Good luck with yours!



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