Plant This: Twinkle Pink cuphea

The ‘Twinkle Pink’ cuphea* has never looked better than it does right now. In partial shade, with more afternoon than morning sun, it looked decent all summer. But with cooler weather its color has intensified, and it’s covered in cute, hot-pink, tubular flowers. I just love it.

I find that a tiny-leaved plant like a cuphea looks best paired with bold foliage, like this softleaf yucca (Y. recurvifolia).

The bees love the flowers, although their tubular shape looks better suited for hummingbird beaks.

In late winter, when I cut back the frost-browned cuphea, the yucca provides continuity and handsome, evergreen color.

A year ago, while checking on the garden at the Unsold House, I admired this very same yucca with a still-lush batface cuphea (C. llavea). Shortly thereafter, I decided the yucca needed to move to my new garden, and I brought it home with me. Am I glad I did. After the ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave, it added instant age and presence to my new-baby garden.

On that visit I also noticed the pink cuphea doing a lovely tango with white mistflower, aka shrubby white boneset (Eupatorium havanense). I love this fall combo. A division of the pink cuphea subsequently came home with me, as did a tiny volunteer white mistflower. Although separated in the new garden, I imagine them calling out to each other, remembering their last tango.

*Thanks for the ID, Frances, and for the passalong, Annie in Austin!

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

6 Responses

  1. Stephanie L says:

    I love your pink cuphea. It is so dainty and colorful. I purchased one of these plants a while back while I was in Fredericksburg at the Wild Seed Farm. The plant did not survive the hot summer:( I have since not been able to locate another one. Any ideas on where I might be able to find one? I would love adding this unusual variety to my garden.

    PS I did check with the Antique Rose Emporium in SA, TX and they do not have any, which surprised me because they seem to carry more of a selection than your average nursery.

    Mine was a passalong, Stephanie, so I don’t know whether any local nurseries carry it. When this one grows a bit, I hope to get seedlings to passalong too. Meantime, you could always put in a request at Barton Springs Nursery, and perhaps they’ll order it for their spring shipments. —Pam

  2. Love the cuphea and particularly your combination with the softleaf yucca. Every time I see one of those yuccas in your pictures I want to go out and get some. Am sending a link to today’s post around to my garden friends here so they can see what I’ve been talking about. Makes a lovely structural element in a deer-resistant garden.

    Thanks for the compliment of sharing my post with your gardener friends, Kathleen. Yes, I’m a big fan of these yuccas. One caveat, where deer are concerned: they find the blossoms very tasty. —Pam

  3. Frances says:

    I am so glad you brought that yucca back to your new garden, Pam. It was missing you, I am sure. We have that little pink cuphea too, the tag called it Twinkle Pink Hybrid. It looks great and did very well this summer, visited often by the hummers. All our cupheas are together, and the attack of the little leaf syndrome is certainly going on in that area. I need to add some larger leaved plants as well.

    Thanks so much for the ID, Frances. You’d mentioned the name to me once before, but I didn’t follow up online to see if it seemed like the same plant. Today I did, and it does! I’m glad to have a name for it. —Pam

  4. Nicole says:

    That pink cuphea looks very cute indeed-and a lovely contrast in form and color against the blue green yucca.

    Thanks, Nicole. I really like that blue-green color on the yucca. —Pam

  5. How cool to have the actual name for the pink Cuphea, thanks to Frances! The original plant was a starter perennial from Red Barn – they’re pretty good about labeling the larger plants but many times the smaller sizes are just lumped together on a table under Perennials. On the other hand, if you can recognize plants when not in bloom, you can pick up great bargains!

    You take such lovely photos, Pam….and the cupheas look wonderful with the soft-leaved yucca. I looked for that yucca on a recent nursery hop, but my timing must have been off because none showed up. Sooner or later it will be mine.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Thanks, Annie. As for the yucca, I had trouble finding the two small ones I bought over the summer. I called all my usual nurseries, but no luck. Finally Red Barn told me they had them. But when I checked, I found they were mislabeled and weren’t the softleaf at all. Argh. I finally found these at Shoal Creek Nursery. —Pam

  6. I definitely want to add the pink cuphea and white mistflower to my garden! Especially outstanding next to the yucca. Thanks, always, for such great ideas!

    Then we’re trading ideas back and forth, Linda, because I’ve been inspired by your combos lately, especially that Salvia madrensis and flax lily combo. —Pam