Allyson Heather

Allyson Heather
I grew Allyson heather for the first time in 2020. My primary objective was to choose plants that attracted pollinators. Different sources described this as being a good pollinator plant.

This is a variety of the Mexican heather, a species of cuphea. It bloomed beautifully all season and withstood our unusually hot and dry summer. This is described as drought tolerant, but I kept it well watered to keep it blooming.

What disappointed me about Allyson heather was that the pollinators largely ignored these beautiful flowers. Instead, they visited the other cupheas I grew, which included firecracker plant, Vermillionaire cuphea, and bat face cuphea.

I created mixed planters using Allyson heather around the edges of the pots with the other taller cupheas being in the center of the pots.

In warm climates, this would be a relatively short evergreen, but I was growing it as an annual. The plant is hardy in zones nine through eleven. This can also be used for mass plantings and as a bedding plant. It is ideal for containers of all types.

Allyson heather is eight to twelve inches in height with a spread of about 1½ feet. This tended to be semi trailing to upright.

The small purple blooms were borne in masses. It bloomed reliably throughout the season from late spring until a hard freeze. Other gardeners might be very happy with all the beautiful color the plant adds to the landscape, but as a pollinator plant, it was disappointing.

Growing Mexican Heather and Other Cupheas

Various kinds of cupheas are readily available at nurseries and garden centers. In cold climates, these can be grown as annuals and bedding plants and in containers. Cupheas are also suitable for flower beds and borders.

They can be trained as standards. Several types of these can be grown as house plants. These include firecracker or cigar plant and Mexican heather.

In warm climates, these can be grown as shrubs in the landscape. I haven’t tried growing Vermillionaire cuphea indoors, but suspect it would make a good house plant. As house plants, these would generally be discarded after a couple years.

The plants are generally tolerant of heat and humidity. Some can withstand drought. Most are hardy to zones nine or higher although this can vary slightly by species. Generally, a frost or freeze damages the plant.

Easy to grow, the plants do best in full sun to part shade. These can be propagated from seed, and will bloom within three months or so. They can also be grown from cuttings.

Cupheas prefer a rich, moist, well drained soil. They need fertilized every two to three weeks unless a time release fertilizer is applied at planting time. Pinch the young plants to keep them bushy.

In warm climates, cupheas can be pruned during spring or fall. Generally, cupheas can bloom throughout the year although they do appear to be more floriferous from late spring into the fall.

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