How to Take Care of a Mexican Heather

Overview

Mexican heather, also known as false heather or by its scientific name, Cuphea hyssopifolia, is a compact shrub often used in landscaping as a ground cover. Native to Mexico and Guatemala, the plant requires warm temperatures to thrive and is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11 only. Mexican heather is prized for its dark, glossy foliage and small flowers that appear in shades of pink, white or light purple. When the plant receives proper care, it will produce a thick, attractive ground cover within a few months of planting.

Step 1

Plant Mexican heather during spring in a location that receives full sun or partial shade. Spread a 3-inch layer of peat moss over the planting site and use a garden tiller to work the material into the soil. Space the plants at least 18 inches apart.

Step 2

Spread a light 1-inch layer of mulch over the ground surrounding Mexican heather to reduce weeds and moisture evaporation. Replenish the mulch layer once every two to three months as necessary to keep it 1 inch thick.

Step 3

Water Mexican heather once every five days during the first month of growth to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Reduce the frequency of watering thereafter to once per week during spring, summer and fall, and once every 10 days during winter.

Step 4

Fertilize Mexican heather three times per year, once in early spring, once in mid-summer and again in early fall. Use a balanced 14-14-14 NPK fertilizer to provide proper nutrition for root and flower formation. Apply it according to the instructions on the package.

Step 5

Remove faded or dead Mexican heather flowers to encourage the formation of new blossoms. Pinch off the flowers at their point of origin to minimize damage and reduce the chance of disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Garden tiller
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service: Cuphea hyssopifolia
  • University of Illinois Extension Awesome Plant Profile: Cuphea
  • "Florida Gardener's Guide"; Tom MacCubbin, Georgia Tasker; 2002

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: Mexican heather, false heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.