Scientific: Cuphea hyssopifolia
Common: Mexican false heather
Family: Lythraceae
Origin: Tropical Mexico to Guatemala

Pronounciation: Cu-FEE-a hys-sop-i-FOL-e-a

Hardiness zones
Sunset
13 (with protection or as summer annual), 16-17, 21-24
USDA 9 (with protection), 10-11

Landscape Use: Shade gardens, Japanese garden designs, wet borders, accent, formal edging, container plant, or trained as a bonsai.

Form & Character: Compact and domelike, sensitive, tropical, woody perennial sub shrub, diminutive, reserved, refined.

Growth Habit: Evergreen subshrub, slow to moderate growth to 2 feet tall with sowmewhat wider spread.

Foliage/Texture: Small, opposite, linear to lanceolate leaves to 3/4 inch long; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Tiny, axillary flowers, calyx green, petals in colors ranging from white to rose purple; fruits are an inconspicuous dry capsule.

Seasonal Color: Light display of flowers during warmer times of years.

Temperature: Mexican false heather will not tolerate frost. Best growth occurs above 55oF, but will tolerate chilling temperatures down to 35oF.

Light: Partial to full shade in Phoenix is best.

Soil: Mexican false heather grows best in a slightly acidic soil (pH between 5.5 and 7). For local culture in Phoenix this means that it's imperative to amend growing soil with peat moss and use acid forming fertilizers. If soils are not amended to lower pH, then the likelihood of seeing yellow leaf cholorsis on this delicate plant in our desert alkaline soils is high.

Watering: Regular and heavy supplemental waterings neded in desert landscapes. In Phoenix, false heather is considered a classic "mesic" plant.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Softwood cuttings

Disease and pests: Spider mites

Additional comments: Mexican false heather is a nice, small plant for those damp, partial shade garden locations where the feeling of being in a desert is not wanted. Its a great courtyard or entryway subshrub. In all, it is seldom seen in Phoenix landscapes. Named cultivars exist including 'Alba' with white flowers. Contact dermatitis from sap is a possibility.