It must be time for my annual post extolling the virtues of Cupheas. But you could just go back and read one of the previous ones. So instead, how about the virtues of red?
I planted all the hummingbird favorites next to the front porch again this year and hummingbirds are almost constantly sipping from these flowers. I’m not sure that red flowers are necessary to attract hummingbirds – I’ve seen them visiting plenty of flowers of other colors – but I happen to like red flowers myself and if they make the hummingbirds take notice, so much the better. Bat-faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) seems to get most of their attention.
This is very nearly the same plant combination I had in 2008. Cuphea llavea ‘Tiny Mice’, Coleus ‘Pineapple Wizard’, and Coleus ‘Palisandra’ are old favorites, but Salvia ‘Vista Purple’ is new to me. The hummingbirds like every flower in this grouping so I ignore conventional wisdom and let the coleus bloom . And sometimes you get free self-sown plants that way. I didn’t plant ‘Palisandra’ this year; it just came up on its own.
Blue/purple Angelonia and white small-flowered Zinnia are also attractive companions for Bat-faced Cuphea. Angelonia is absolutely unshaken by any type of summer weather in my experience. It’s almost boring. You plant it in the spring and it blooms non-stop without deadheading or any attention whatsoever until frost. But it apparently has no nectar because I’ve never seen a bee, butterfly or hummingbird near the flowers. (I’ll update this as soon as I remember the variety name of the little Zinnia, but it’s also been a good performer in this hot dry summer.)
I didn’t plant Cuphea ignea this year, but I have it anyway. Another volunteer. I’ve had several cultivars of this in other years, and also the plain species, so I’ll just call this one C. ignea and leave it at that. It’s a very orange-y red, but I think it qualifies as red.
‘Dallas Red’ lantana is always eye-catching, although it’s generally more orange than red. The butterflies and hummingbirds love it, the deer and other herbivores hate it, and I think it’s pretty.
But look at this red. This took me by surprise last week. I know the heat and drought has been very hard on plants this summer, but it seems way too soon for this.
Most of the summer I don’t notice this ‘Seiryu’ Japanese maple much. It’s still a small plant which stands at the edge of the woods and blends in with the rest of the greens. When I walked by and saw red, I had to grab the camera.