Simply Red

August 2nd, 2010
Cuphea llavea 'Tiny Mice'

Cuphea llavea 'Tiny Mice'

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.

Cuphea combination

Cuphea, Coleus, Salvia

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.

Another Cuphea Combination

Cuphea, Angelonia, Zinnia

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.)

Cuphea ignea

Cuphea ignea

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.

Lantana 'Dallas Red'

Lantana 'Dallas 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.

Japanese Maple 'Seiryu'

Japanese Maple 'Seiryu'

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.

8 Responses to “Simply Red”

  1. ‘Vista Purple’ is new to me this year, too… and I can’t see living without it in the future! I AM kicking myself for not planting some cupheas. I always seem to drool over them on your blog, on Annie-in-Austin’s posts, and so on, so I don’t know why I haven’t bitten the bullet yet. (We even sell them in the garden center where I work part-time!)

    Oh and yeah… WAY too early for the red on the Japanese maple. Boo to that. 🙁

    • entangled says:

      I’m really liking the Vista Purple salvia. Some of those splendens-types seem to bloom early and then take a break, but this one has been going since I planted it in April. The hummingbirds liked it early, before the cupheas were big.

      I’m glad to hear that your garden center has cupheas – it’s been hit-and-miss trying to find them around here.

  2. Yay for red and for hummingbirds, Entangled! You’re making me realize it’s been a few years since coleus grew on the veranda… never tried it in a border.

    The cupheas are hummingbird favorites here- have to replant them after most winters but it’s worth it. {Yes, Kim- try them next year!}
    My new salvia vanhoutteii is catching the hummingbirds’ interest, too… and since it will probably be an annual will also need replanting. They like the small, red flowers on an old-fashioned canna.

    Your Dallas Red looks good – some insect attacked mine, making the leaves on the whole plant look so pitiful that it was a relief when it croaked.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS Could the Zinnia be linearis/angustifolia?

    • entangled says:

      I bought Salvia vanhoutteii one year at at plant sale and then never saw it for sale again anywhere. It was definitely an annual here and the hummingbirds loved it. FWIW, I did a tiny bit of internet research on it and found that it’s said to be the parent of our splendens-type garden salvias. I’ve been thinking about saving seeds to try to dehybridize some of the splendens plants to see if I could get back to the parent.

      Sorry about your Dallas Red. 🙁 I didn’t know that lantana had any enemies.

      The zinnia could be a linearis type. It’s small and has narrow strap-shaped leaves, and I know I saved the tag…if I can just find it…………..

  3. The dehybridizing sounds interesting, Entangled. I haven’t noticed any seeds forming on the vanhoutteii – had read it’s possible to root cuttings to grow in window over winter… may try that, along with lots of mulch.


    Just remembered to come back & see if you answered- forgot you don’t email comment replies.

    • entangled says:

      For some reason I don’t understand, I (as the administrator) am not getting email notifications of comments either and that’s supposed to be built in to WordPress. I did find a plug-in to allow readers to receive comment follow-ups via email, but just need to find time to install and test. Maybe one of these hot afternoons when I’m hiding indoors.

  4. wendy says:

    Love the reds – especially in the Japanese maple.

    • entangled says:

      Those red leaves dried up and fell already 🙁 but at least I have the photos.
      Red flowers are still going strong though.

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