Cuphea Species, Elfin Herb, False Heather, Hawaiian Heather, Mexican Heather

Cuphea hyssopifolia

Family: Lythraceae (ly-THRAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cuphea (KYOO-fee-uh) (Info)
Species: hyssopifolia (hiss-sop-ih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Cuphea rivularis
Synonym:Cuphea sunubana
View this plant in a garden



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual



Bloom Color:

Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Alabaster, Alabama

Auburn, Alabama

Dothan, Alabama

Gurley, Alabama

Montgomery, Alabama

Prattville, Alabama

Trussville, Alabama

Goodyear, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Oracle, Arizona

Vail, Arizona

Rogers, Arkansas

Success, Arkansas

Anaheim, California

Elk Grove, California

Lathrop, California

Manteca, California

Menifee, California

Merced, California

Sacramento, California

San Diego, California(4 reports)

Santa Ana, California

Winnetka, California

Stamford, Connecticut

Dover, Delaware

Auburndale, Florida

Bartow, Florida

Boynton Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hobe Sound, Florida

Holiday, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Homosassa, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Kissimmee, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Leesburg, Florida

Lithia, Florida

Maitland, Florida

North Fort Myers, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Plant City, Florida

Riverview, Florida(2 reports)

Ruskin, Florida

Saint Cloud, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Sebring, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Williston, Florida

Cochran, Georgia

Fortson, Georgia

Loganville, Georgia

Stone Mountain, Georgia(2 reports)

Hauula, Hawaii

Honomu, Hawaii


Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Winterset, Iowa

Richmond, Kentucky

Brusly, Louisiana

Maurepas, Louisiana

New Iberia, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Springfield, Massachusetts

Clarkston, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Maben, Mississippi

Petal, Mississippi

Farmington, New Hampshire

Mount Holly, New Jersey

Alamogordo, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Yonkers, New York

Oil City, Pennsylvania

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

North Augusta, South Carolina

Orangeburg, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Alice, Texas

Austin, Texas(3 reports)

Brazoria, Texas(2 reports)

Broaddus, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

Bryan, Texas

Dallas, Texas(3 reports)

Dickinson, Texas

Houston, Texas(7 reports)

Katy, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Midway, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

New Caney, Texas

Odessa, Texas

Port Lavaca, Texas

Port Neches, Texas

Richmond, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

San Marcos, Texas

Spring, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

Willis, Texas

Yantis, Texas

Mc Lean, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 2, 2019, 1amore1 from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is a tough beautiful shrub, I'm a beginning gardener and it has suffered my cutting back to hard to moving it twice in 3 years and it keeps growing/blooming. It will always be a staple bedding plant in my garden.


On Apr 2, 2019, sjrem from Hastings On Hudson, NY wrote:

I live in the Hudson Valley of New York, zone 7b, and this plant overwintered outside and came back!! I bought it on a whim a few years ago and put it in the ground right by my front door. I love the delicate blossoms combined with the hardy looking foliage. I think the plant is attractive and low maintenance.


On Apr 8, 2017, smwboxer from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

Planted in Zone 10b, did well, too well! Seeded all over the place and spent a good two hours digging it all out. Would never plant again anywhere that does not freeze.


On Jul 15, 2013, Lynette22 from Johannesburg,
South Africa wrote:

I saw these little plants at my local nursery and on an impulse bought five as I loved them on sight.They were covered in blooms when I bought them but after sitting on my shady patio for two weeks (while I decided where to plant them!) all the little blooms dried up. I finally planted them in a border with some white Iceberg roses where they're in full sun until about 2pm and they're flowering like crazy once again despite it being midwinter. I planted them with plenty of compost and manure (commercially prepared) and give them a good soak once a fortnight, although I'll probably have to increase it to once a week in summer. I couldn't find information as to whether they're good companion plants for Iceberg roses, but so far, they all seem happy and look great together!


On Sep 12, 2012, stephenp from Wirral, UK, Zone 9a,
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

A dainty plant with fragile looking flowers, it's a charming plant. These are plants that have recently been sold as bedding plants here. However I am not entirely convinced they are not perennial here. Despite their subtropical origins, I feel they could well do well here in the British winters (in the milder areas).

They stay well behaved anyway, with little chance of the plants growing too fast.

The bees absolutely love this plant.

Ill report in March next year how this plant gets on.


On Aug 23, 2012, Suzy_Bee from Spring, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

The bees absolutely LOVE the dainty flowers on this plant. Mine do quite well in Spring, TX (just north of Houston). Even when frozen to the ground during our hard winter of 2011, they came right back up after I gave them a good trim. Another bonus is that my husband is quite fond of these, so I think I'll make him happy and plant these as a ground cover in my new garden.


On Jul 23, 2010, Saltydoc from Silver Spring, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I planted the purple version of Mexican Heather last year in my pondside garden. It did very well, never invasive or leggy. I left it in the garden over the winter without protection (OK, I forgot about it!). I has not come back this year, unfortunately. I would have loved to see it again.


On Sep 1, 2009, barbadosgirl from St. Thomas,
Barbados wrote:

We grow lots of this plant in Barbados, as a groundcover or a border. We call it cuphea, I guess the heather association means nothing to us. I don't find it very invasive, it self seeds, but not too profusely, and I propagate it by digging up the tiny seedlings. We also grow a type with brown leaves called 'Martinique' cuphea which is just as short but has a slightly more open habit.


On May 30, 2009, Floydr47 from Odessa, TX wrote:

Early bloomer. Almost no care needed. Likes the shade or the sun. A perfect "porch plant". Here in west Texas "Mexican Heather" requires watering daily. Temperatures in this area average 90-100 degrees F. with little humidity through the summer months and very little rainfall.


On May 11, 2009, janlark from Auburndale, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

DO NOT OVERWATER this plant and keep it trimmed. One 30-min. irrigation per week is all the water it can take. I trim mine about once a month from early March to Thanksgiving. Both of these lessons were learned the hard way.


On Nov 12, 2007, Joyce18 from Leesburg, FL wrote:

I bought 19 of these plants Jan. 2007, 6 of them are just beautiful, 3 are JUST ok, 7 are small, drying up & look horrible, and 3 are gone completely. I am a snow bird and only here for 6 months from Nov 1st to April 20th, so I don't know what is going on in the summer with these plants. The ones in the partial shade are the best & ok ones. The full sun ones are the worst. All are on the auto sprinkler for twice aweek, and I do fertilizer when here. I am going to severly trim the bad ones, give some bloom boost, treat with a fungal spray and see what happens. I was told we had an extremely hot summer, and I'm guessing it has something to do with it. If things do not improve, I will replace the bad ones with something else for full full sun. The ones that are doing well I will definitely ke... read more


On Nov 7, 2007, nanabest1 from Clarkston, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I bought this potted plant in Crystal River Florida last winter. I brought it home to Michigan and it did very well outside all summer. I hope to save it indoors now until we return to Florida after Christmas, so far, so good.


On Jun 28, 2007, lee_ro from Raleigh, NC wrote:

I bought this last year, not knowing it is typically known to be an annual here in zone 7. I planted it in one of the roughest areas of my gardens, under a sparse old Carolina pine tree in dry, burnt up ground. I didn't really have high expectations; it was cheap and I bought it on almost a whim. The patch of ground it is living in isn't quite within the reach of the irrigation system and never stays consistantly moist. Last year it did okay, nothing too impressive but it was definitely healthy. Thinking it was some hardy perennial bush I left it in the ground overwinter with no mulching and it died away. Somehow it has made a recovery this year, and is back to sprouting healthy green leaves. According to info here on DG it's a tender perennial or annual. Anything that can withstan... read more


On Jun 27, 2007, Anaid from San Antonio, TX wrote:

At this point my experience is neutral. I've just planted 6 smaller bushes in a corner of my lot I normally call Crabgrass Corner. The ground is extremely hard and neither Bermuda nor St Augustine want to grow there. My Boxer, Harley, runs the length of the fence and ends up in that corner running after our mailman and any intruders so I wasnt able to plant them up against the fence. I am hoping that the will take root and do well. This corner is in dier need of some color;


On Nov 10, 2006, 1cros3nails4gvn from Bluffton, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

mexican heather is a very popular groundcover in the hilton head / bluffton , s.c. area. it grows and blooms almost constantly and is completely evergreen here.


On Sep 30, 2006, jgb from Success, AR (Zone 6b) wrote:

For the past 3 years I have grown Mexican Heather in a 10' diameter bed around a yard lamp. I love it. I buy plants as soon as I can fin them and usually try to get them out around the middle of March. I plant them a little more dense than is recomended (about 6 to 8" spacing). Water when I think of it, never fertilize, just enjoy the view.

Would like try to raise some from seed. Can anyone tell me where I might source some seed?


On Sep 18, 2006, veejay from Martinsburg, WV wrote:

I have nothing but good things to say about Mexican Heather. I've never seen it get leggy, but that is probably because it doesn't get a chance here in zone 6B; it is full and beautiful from May until frost (which always comes too early for me). I have purchased it from a nursery for the past two years---last year I dug it out when I planted my tulips. This year, I'm going to cut it back when it freezes and heavily mulch it. I'll let you know what happens.


On Sep 13, 2006, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

On the plus side, this plant blooms constantly and year round since we enjoy mild winters. However, I am bored with the look and its tendency to legginess (although an ocassional haircut takes care of that). Would yank it out, but it is not fair to get rid of a plant that is so undemanding. Definitely dislikes being overwatered. When in doubt, don't.


On Sep 3, 2006, schnule from Santa Barbara, CA wrote:

Have had this plant in my garden for many years. It blooms year round in Santa Barbara and does not require much attention. Bought two more today . Haven't had the invasion problems mentioned. I trim it back from time to time and like the fact that it thrives without much help from me.


On Jul 17, 2006, AL_GAConnection from Columbus, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have a mexican heather in Alabama (ZONE 8A). Every year, in November, I cut it back to the ground and mulch it. We have some winter days of 10 degree weather, and for that reason, the mulch stays on until May, after the threat of frost is over. 5 years running and it has always bushed out to 10-12" wide and 8-10" tall - mounding.

I have planted two in a raised bed in Georgia (Zone 8) and will do the same over-wintering.


On Mar 13, 2006, jmarks74 from Loganville, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I live in Loganville Ga. This plant did very well. It was large and profusely bloomed little purple flowers. It was planted in full sun. (Georgia Sun!) It died to the ground on the first hard freeze. I cut it back. Today, I was out in the garden ...and saw new shoots emerging!! I bought 12 new babies from the local nursey today to plant in a new garden. I love it.


On Sep 19, 2005, snagglebuddy from Riverview, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

My husband loves this plant. I noticed it was looking scraggly, so I decided to pull it up. The roots were too hard for me to pull, so I just cut it back. It is back in full bloom now and doing well.


On Aug 19, 2004, brianton from Hauula, HI wrote:

Grows well in Hawaii


On Aug 1, 2004, deborahgrand from Baton Rouge, LA wrote:

This grows very well in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Winters over well too; I've seen some reports that its foliage is evergreen, but not here.


On Jun 2, 2004, Larabee from Houston, TX wrote:

This is a great plant to use in a contained or patch area of ground, such as around a mailbox, where you can block off its spead and also plant other flowers in complimenting colors near it. If you're tempted to put it in a full flower bed, I'd recommend putting it in long window boxes towards the back of the bed, and either sinking the boxes into the ground so you can't see them, or planting other things in front of the Mexican Heather to block the window box so it's not visible. As pretty as it is, most people use it for a border, not for a main attraction--don't let it take over.

Definately cut it back when it's getting unsightly. If you're scared to cut it down to the ground (or pot), try cutting off the top third and seeing how it looks/survives. More than likely, i... read more


On May 4, 2004, kamia from Athens, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I ripped 4 of these out of my yard 2 years ago because I became bored with the look. Each one was least 2 feet across. Dug up the roots and runners as well.. and boy did I dig, and dig, and dig. I had planted them in sets of 2. I ended up with 2 holes at least 5 feet across and 3 feet wide for each area . Sprayed the areas with spectracide. and after all that, it's still sprouting up about a good 6 feet from where I had originally planted it. keep it in a pot or you'll never get rid of it. Other than that, Loves the sun and not demanding of water.. Give it a REAL GOOD haircut every now and then too because foliage tends to go leggy and get ugly.


On May 3, 2004, jwkaren from Lafayette, CA wrote:

I planted this in a large pot and the deer eat the tender shoots. I can't say that a more mature plant is not more deer resistant but young plants should be protected. The deer did not touch a trailing sweet potato vine, a nemesia or some coleus in the same pot.


On May 2, 2004, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant never stopped blooming all year. Even with a few days of temps on the low thirties it never lost a single leaf. I am impressed with it and will continue to grow it all I can.


On Apr 9, 2004, Bemhawk from Sterling, VA wrote:

I have three mexican heather plants that I took in over this past winter and it appears that they are dead. If I cut back all the dead parts on top, will they grow back from the roots?


On Dec 28, 2003, TheYardFairy from Carlsbad, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I was given off shoots of this plant recently and planted them in my yard. They have done well and look very nice as an edge to a new border. However, the person who gave them to me is now warning me that they can be invasive. I have searched for evidence to back that up but only found one mention this at this site:
"Once planted it can take over. Its roots are very fine and will extend out in every direction like grass."
Does anyone else have any evidence of this?
I am gardening in southern california.


On Oct 20, 2003, buldog from Farmington, NH wrote:

I purchased this plant at a supermarket last spring. Never had encountered it before. We live in New Hampshire. It did extremely well here and was in a full sun all during a very hot summer. It seems to be thriving much more in our much cooler temperatures now. Of course, I know it won't survive our winters so I'm going to bring in inside and see what happens. I really preferred it to some of our other edging plants in the garden.


On Oct 1, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

Cuphea hyssopifolia is one of those plants I refuse to garden without. I am not the most careful of gardeners, and it survives me. It can be short-lived, it can live a long time. It can stay compact, it can get 3' across. (I'm writing from west-central Florida, U.S.)

It is the ideal low constant flowering fine textured tender perennial. Right now there are only six in my new garden, but that will change. I have both the purple and the white types, my favorites. I find the white stays more compact.


On Apr 27, 2003, klmalcolm from Cedar Rapids, IA wrote:

Although I am new at this gardening thing, I really enjoyed my Mexican Heather from last summer. The only problem is I have been told that it is both an annual and a perennial, so I'm not sure what I should be doing next - I am ready to clean out my graden bed and not sure what to do with the dead foliage and roots.


On Apr 24, 2003, Nurafey from Polk City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

The only problem I have encountered with these is the legginess, which is addressed in previous comments. These look great planted under red roses.


On Oct 2, 2002, BERich_NC wrote:

We planted 3 small plants in April, by August they were each 36 - 40 inches wide. They keep their circular form and the bees and butterflies love them.


On Jul 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Mexican Heather originated in Mexico and Guatemala. They have tiny lavender, purple, or white flowers and small, glossy leaves. Foliage is hardy to 28F, but will generally grow back from roots if frozen to the ground.

I cut mine back once they die down (after frost) and they come back each year, but they are an annual in cooler climates.


On Jun 9, 2002, signal20 from Orlando, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Sub-shrub which gets leggy and coarse if let grow. I have trimmed it to the ground and had it grow back everty time with lush growth. Once planted it can take over. Its roots are very fine and will extend out in every direction like grass. Pulled some out of the flower bed and it still keeps popping up everywhere. Small pink flowers all year except for the coldest months. fast grower.


On Aug 5, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

This low growing shrubby plant has small 1/4 to 1/2 inch bright green leaves and is constantly covered with tiny flowers from spring to late fall. If cold weather didn't arrive, this native of Mexico would never stop blooming. Its texture is fine, and its flowers, though small, can virtually cover the dense, mounding shrub. The flowers are generally a pinkish-purple, but can also be pale lavender or white. Mexican heather can return from its roots if the winter is not too severe; usually considered an annual.