UACES Facebook Mexican Heather

Mexican Heather

(October 2005)

Question I have several plants that I would like to keep over the winter.  Mosquito plant, Mexican heather and begonias.  Are any of these winter hardy in central Arkansas?  If so, what can I do to get them through?  If not, how can I over winter them inside?  Also, do I need to cover my gardenia bush for the winter and if so what is the best material to use for cover?

AnswerExcept for the gardenia, none of the plants you mentioned are reliably winter hardy in central Arkansas.  Mexican heather and some begonias have managed to survive a few of our winters, but you shouldn’t count on it.  To guarantee these plants back in your garden next season, you will need to either move them indoors or take cuttings for new starts.  I would advocate the latter, if these plants are in the ground.  The mosquito plant—a scented geranium is not going to make it, even with extra mulch, so move it indoors or store it in your garage.  For the Mexican heather and begonias, after taking some cuttings, add extra mulch when the weather turns cool and see what you have next spring.  Gardenias only need protection if the weather gets below 15 – 20 degrees.  If needed, cover with something porous—a sheet, blanket, or cardboard box.


QuestionCan you tell me if I've killed my Mexican Heather? I pruned it back during the winter, and now I see no signs of life whatsoever. Will it come back anyway this summer? Also, can you recommend some good annuals for this area (LR) that can tolerate the extreme hot/humid conditions we see here in the summer? I've found that most of the annuals I can find at local discount stores are not really suitable for the Arkansas summers, especially impatiens. I've never had any luck with them. It seems that when it starts to get really hot, they die. I usually plant them on the north side of our house in deep shade.

AnswerMexican heather is really not a perennial in Arkansas. We have had some survive the past two winters, but we haven't had much of a winter. I would consider it an annual, and if you see signs of life in the spring, count yourself lucky. As to other heat loving annuals, there are many. Melampodium, lantana, Mexican heather (as you know), the new petunias, tithonia, Mexican zinnias, and begonias to name a few. Impatiens normally do great in Arkansas, they tolerate heat fine, provided they get some water. Other shade lovers include torenia and the wax leaf begonias, caladiums and coleus.


(December)

QuestionMy daughter gifted me with a lovely Mexican Heather a few weeks ago. I planted it in the ground and took good care of it and it has rewarded me with countless blooms and has new growth in the center. Can I leave it outside through the winter? If so should I mulch it? And if freezing precipitation is forecast can I cover it with a cardboard box for the duration? It is my first plant of this kind and I don't want to move it nor lose it.

Answer I am surprised they are still selling Mexican heather, as we see it more frequently in the spring and early summer. Mexican heather - Cuphea hyssopifolia is a summer annual plant that normally does not overwinter in Arkansas. The past two winters have been mild, and a few gardeners have reported it coming back from the root system, but that is not something you should count on. Your best bet would be to buy a new plant next season. Plants are readily available in the spring and would probably give you quicker and healthier results, but due to the sentimentality, you may want to try and overwinter your plant. You can overwinter it indoors or under your house--protecting it from freezing. Do so soon, as some areas have already had frosts.


(October)

QuestionI have several plants that I would like to keep over the winter. Mosquito plant, Mexican heather and begonias. Are any othese winter hardy in central Arkansas? If so, what can I do to get them through? If not, how can I over winter them inside? Also, do I need to cover my gardenia bush for the winter and if so what is the best material to use for cover?

AnswerExcept for the gardenia, none of the plants you mentioned are reliably winter hardy in central Arkansas. Mexican heather and some begonias have managed to survive a few of our winters, but you shouldn’t count on it. To guarantee these plants back in your garden next season, you will need to either move them indoors or take cuttings for new starts. I would advocate the latter, if these plants are in the ground. The mosquito plant -- a scented geranium is not going to make it, even with extra mulch, so move it indoors or store it in your garage. For the Mexican heather and begonias, after taking some cuttings, add extra mulch when the weather turns cool and see what you have next spring. Gardenias only need protection if the weather gets below 15 to 20 degrees. If needed, cover with something porous -- a sheet, blanket, or cardboard box.


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