will find the Vermillionaire's tubular flowers a
place to visit all day.
years ago I wrote an article on cupheas and merely gave
casual mention to a variety called Vermillionaire which
we had been growing for a year. Now after growing three
more years including seven at my home on a rocky red
clay hillside in west Georgia, I can say this is a
I say must have you may be thinking that is a pretty
strong recommendation. Now in late July, my plants are
about 24 inches tall and 36 inches wide. The -orange-red
tubular flowers are non-stop and produced by the
hundreds on each plant. There are always 5 or 6
hummingbirds on them leaving occasionally to go hit on
my giant Amistad salvia.
bees are there in great numbers too and every once in a
while appear to challenge a hummingbird. This usually
ends up with the hummer quickly showing who's boss. The
thing that has surprised me most, however, are the
butterflies. Every day, there are Spicebush
swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, and even Pearl
Crescents. This is truly a plant for anyone that enjoys
the pollinator garden.
have mine intermingle with milkweeds and the new Mysty
blue salvia. The combination has been very pleasing and
really successful. My son who I sometimes consider the
‘Adventurous Color Designer’ uses them in large
containers with lime green ornamental sweet potatoes,
and even calibrachoas. He uses them at outdoor shopping
centers where the clientele is often stunned at seeing
hummingbirds at the mall.
speaking Vermillionaire is a Cuphea ignea hybrid. It
develops into a woody-like plant and as I said bearing
hundreds of scarlet-orange flowers for months. In zones
8 and 9 it will get knocked to the ground by freezes but
normally returns faithfully in the spring provided it
doesn’t sit in water during the cold winter. Believe
me, it is being grown in colder areas as an annual much
like you would a petunia.
you locate your Vermillionaire cupheas, buy at least
three, select a site in full sun and plant in
well-drained soil. Set plants 24 to 36 inches apart,
planting at the same depth they are growing in the
container. Apply a good layer of mulch, water to get
established and then enjoy.
early summer, pinch growth as needed and more branching
will follow. My son does this religiously while I have a
tendency to leave them natural. Both methods have proven
very successful. Feed in mid-summer and again in early
fall with a light application of a balanced,
slow-release fertilizer. These species are drought
tolerant, but watering during prolonged dry periods will
pay dividends in the fall.
them informally in the garden rather than lined up like
soldiers. They work well with other hummingbird plants
like the firebush or planted in partnership with Chapel
Hill yellow lantana and Gold Star esperanza. Blue
flowers whether round or spikey create partnerships that
you will want to photograph as much as the hummingbirds.
A lot of hot weather remains, and Vermillionaire cupheas
would make a fine addition to your garden!