Mexican cigar plant, also known as Cuphea ignea, is a perennial shrub valued for its ornamental flowers and ease of care. The plant's flowers are long, brownish-red tubes with white ends, giving them the appearance of ash-tipped cigars, hence the name. Blooming occurs during spring, summer and early fall. Native to Central and South America, Mexican cigar plant thrives outdoors in zones 10 through 12, but is commonly grown as a house plant throughout most of the United States.
Keep Mexican cigar plant in a location that receives full, direct sunlight throughout the day. Grow in a well-drained, moist, fertile potting mix for the best results. Maintain a temperature of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
Water about once every 10 days, allowing the soil to dry between applications. Apply water directly to the soil to avoid wetting the leaves, as moist foliage is more susceptible to fungal diseases and pests. Reduce watering frequency to once every two weeks during winter.
Feed Mexican cigar plant once per year during early spring, just as new growth begins. Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to gradually add nutrients to the soil throughout the year. Apply at the rate recommended by the product's manufacturer for the best results.
Re-pot the plant during early spring once every two to three years, or whenever the plant has outgrown its current container. Increase the diameter of the container by 3 to 4 inches each time and provide a fresh growing medium to maximize growth.