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» Articles » Plants » Mexican Heather: Perennial Ground Cover or Blooming Annual?

Mexican Heather: Perennial Ground Cover or Blooming Annual?

by Douglas L. Bishop on 4/23/2020 13:14

It’s always fun to find a plant we didn’t previously know existed!

Such was the case a couple of years ago when I needed something to fill in a pretty good sized container on the back deck that had not yet been potted.

Looking around at the garden center (I think it was Lowe’s), I saw this densely green spreading plant with small purplish pink blooms that looked like it would fit nicely into our vacant container.

“Mexican heather” the plant introduced itself by way of the small information tag that peeked from the soil in its temporary tub on the garden center floor.

I scooped it up, paid for it, and had it in place in our once empty container before the sun went down.

After a good watering, I decided to do a little research concerning our new friend--its history and what its nutritional needs might be.

Here are some of the things I found out.

Mexican heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) is used primarily as a ground cover in the warmer planting zones. And, in these warmer areas where it thrives year round, the plant presents its colorful and plentiful little blossoms throughout most of the year.

Middle Tennessee weather turned out to be just a bit too severe for the plant to survive the winter. But we had a colorful annual that gave us a respectable showing all summer and into the fall.

When used as a ground cover, Mexican heather is undemanding of soil types and thrives on sunshine and only moderate moisture to produce those ongoing little blooms.

The plant is said to be well adapted to the extreme heat and sometimes drought-like conditions of the desert Southwest and south of the US border.

If you’re lucky enough to live in a zone where you can keep this plant going year round, little maintenance is needed. Light pruning as areas fade or brown out and a bit of balanced fertilizer during the active growing and blooming season are all that’s needed to keep the plant happy.

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