When Is The Best Time To Plant The Mexican Heather, A Pollinator Magnet?

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When Is The Best Time To Plant The Mexican Heather, A Pollinator Magnet?

The Mexican heather, scientifically known as Cuphea hyssopifolia, is an annual flowering bush that is perfect for gardeners living in the American South. It is also called False heather, Hawaiian heather, and Elfin herb, and it was named after its origin in Mexico. The plant is also native to Guatemala and Honduras and has also made its way to Hawaii. Mexican heather thrives in tropical climates and produces small, colorful flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white that can last all summer. To get the best results, it’s ideal to plant a Mexican heather during the transition period between winter and spring or early summer so the plant can establish itself before blooming in the full heat of summer.

Mexican heather is an excellent addition to a home garden because its flowers attract various popular pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies, and Southern Plains Bumblebees. Pollinators help plants by moving pollen around the garden, resulting in more abundant and better-tasting vegetables when planted near an existing crop of vegetables. Mexican heathers are also low-maintenance, requiring only weekly watering, mild winters, and occasional pruning and pest control to produce a fresh set of blooms every year.

Plant Mexican heathers after your region’s final frost

Pink Mexican heather bush

Longklong/Shutterstock

To ensure your Mexican heather bush grows healthy enough to produce flowers in your yard, plant it after your area has seen its final frost for the winter. This may differ depending on the frequency of cold snaps where you live, as some northern regions of the U.S. experience frigid temperatures up until early summer. Mexican heathers don’t fare well in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so planting one before a region’s cold spell is over will likely result in the plant dying before it can blossom.

Rather, Mexican heathers love full sun and high temperatures, growing best in conditions averaging between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Even if summers in your area exceed this range, don’t worry about the heat being too extreme for the bushes to handle. The plants are much more tolerant of scorching hot temperatures and partial shade than cold weather, especially temperatures falling below the freezing point. They also enjoy well-drained soil capable of holding a bit of moisture to keep them hydrated during the warmer months of the year.

Planting a Mexican heather in a portable container instead may save the plants during brutal winters since bringing them indoors and away from harsh temperatures and frosts will keep them from going dormant or dying off. However, if you’ve already placed a Mexican heather in the ground, covering its soil and roots with mulch may help it keep warm and hold moisture.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.