Cuphea melvilla

7 Dec

Cuphea melvilla (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Cuphea melvilla (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to light shade

Flowering period: Summer to early autumn

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 1.2m

Eventual Spread: 1.2m

Hardiness: 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11, 12

Family: Lythraceae

Cuphea melvilla is an evergreen shrub (it will die to ground level in the south of the UK) with a lax habit. Its dark green leaves are elliptic with entire margins, up to 10cm long and 3.5cm across. Its yellow/ orange flowers are tubular and up to 5cm long.

Cuphea melvilla Flower (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Cuphea melvilla Flower (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Cuphea melvilla, commonly known as Giant Cigar Plant or Candy Corn Plant, is native to south South America, including Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador. In its native habitat it grows in moist soils next to water bodies and streams.

The etymological root of the binomial name Cuphea is derived from the Greek kufos meaning ‘bent forward’. Melvilla is named after Robert Melvill (1723 – 1809), a Scottish soldier, botanist and inventor.

The landscape architect may find Cuphea melvilla useful as an autumn flowering shrub suitable for a mixed border.

Cuphea melvilla Leaf (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Cuphea melvilla Leaf (08/12/15, Kew Gardens, London)

Ecologically,  Cuphea melvilla flowers are attractive to polinating insects and hummingbirds.

Cuphea melvilla prefers moist, fertile, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It dislikes dry soils.

Cuphea melvilla requires little maintenance. It may be pruned anally to keep a tidy, compact habit.

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