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How to Grow and Properly Care for the Mexican Heather

How to Grow and Care for Mexican Heather
Mexican Heather is a tropical shrub that can be grown in a container, indoors or outdoors, in warm climates. It produces pink and purple flowers. What more can be the reason to plant these ornamental plants in your garden? Moreover, planting and taking care of them is easy!
Tanaya Navalkar
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Identity Crisis!
Mexican Heather is also known as False Heather to differentiate it from genuine plants. It only looks like a heather plant, but it is not a true one.
Mexican Heather is a densely branched shrub belonging to the Lythraceae family, and is native to Mexico and Guatemala. It is also known as False heather, Artificial heather, Elfin herb with and Cuphea hyssopifolia being the botanical name. It grows best in warm climates, although it can also be planted indoors in a colder environment.

It has a fern-like structure, and exhibits an abundant bloom of small trumpet-shaped flowers with pink, lavender, or white petals. It produces green foliage, and blooms almost all the year round. This small shrub takes up a substantial portion of the garden and adds vibrant color to it. Its compact size makes it an excellent choice as a houseplant.

Read further to know more about growing and caring for your plant.
More About Mexican Heather
Common Name: Mexican Heather, False Heather
Botanical Name: Cuphea hyssopifolia
Family: Lythraceae
Origin: Mexico, Guatemala
Plant type: Shrub
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 2 feet tall
Spread: 3 feet wide
Foliage: Green
Color: Pink, Lavender, White
Blooms: All year
Attributes: Showy, Ornamental
► Although Mexican heather looks delicate, it is a fairly sturdy and evergreen shrub.

► In zones 7 and 8, it acts like a perennial, and in colder zones, it acts like an annual plant. In zones 8 and lower where the climate is colder, it is best to grow this plant indoors or in a greenhouse.

► The plant blooms all year round with flat, fern-like leaves and small lavender-colored flowers. The flowers usually appear in spring and last through the summer and sometimes up to early fall.

► It thrives in hot and humid climatic conditions under filtered shade to avoid the foliage and bloom from fading. Cold and frosty conditions may damage the roots or actually kill these plants.

► Since it is a self-seeder, new seedlings usually surface in spring when the soil is warm.

► It grows up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet in width.
Growing Mexican Heather
► Mexican heather is easy to grow and care for. It has very low maintenance which is why it is a great option for the first time gardeners.

► Select a location that has direct sunlight for a few hours and partial shade for the rest of the day.

► It can be planted as a seed or transplanted as a larger plant. Since it grows up to 3 feet in width, make sure the space is big enough for it to grow.

► It requires sandy-loamy soil with neutral or slightly alkaline pH balance ranging from 5.5 to 7.8. The soil should be moist but not soggy.

► Dig an area of about 12 - 15 inches deep. Mix three inches of compost into the tilled soil.

► Dig a small hole in it to place the root ball, taking extreme care while doing so.

► Water the plant thoroughly after covering all the roots firmly with soil.

► The seeds should start germinating in 1 - 2 weeks. If you want to transplant, let the seedlings grow for about 6 - 8 weeks after the last frost.
Growing in Containers
► Use pots or containers that have drainage holes at the bottom.

► Slide a Mexican heather plant from its pot and cut the roots enclosing the root ball with a knife.

► Place the container in shade for two weeks before you intend to move it indoors.

► In winter, place the container in a greenhouse or an enclosed porch protected from cold and frost.

► Water it regularly or only when the soil seems dry.

► Move the plant outdoors in spring after the last frost. You may the replant it in the garden or keep it in the container itself.
How to Care?
► For it to grow best, make sure to plant your Mexican heather in an area which gets ample or rather full sunlight to partial shade.

► The soil should be moist and well-drained. Although, it has good drought tolerance, make sure to water the plant regularly or when the top layer of the soil feels dry to touch.

► Mexican heather does not need much pruning which is such a relief for the gardeners. It is compact by nature. However, you may prune it lightly to give it a desired shape and appearance.

► Prune the mature plants in spring or winter to enhance growth. Trim the dead leaves and branches.

► Fertilize the plant with a balanced, water soluble fertilizer (proportion 10-10-10) once in every four months except during winters.

► The plant can be propagated by taking smaller pieces from young stems and rooting them in moist soil.

► These pretty flowers often attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
What You Need to Watch Out For?
► They are vulnerable to flea beetles and spider mites. Monitor your plants constantly because the adult flea beetles tend to feed on them with great intensity, especially, during spring. Examine leaves and stems for holes which may be the result of beetles chewing on them. Jerk the branches to remove most of the beetles but using insecticides that contain pyrethrin will eliminate them.

► Spider mites often strike Mexican heather in dry and hot weather. Watch out for their webs underneath the leaves. They can be chased away by misting the plant everyday. Another way to get rid of them without hurting the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds is by using insecticidal soap.
Mexican heather makes for an excellent and charming addition to your landscape or decorations. In addition, it is a visual treat when you plant them in the borders along the sidewalks or when planted indoors. Moreover, it is a low-maintenance plant and perfect for those who are planting it for the first time or those wishing to add a splash of pink and purple colors to your garden or indoors.