Tropical Style

How to Boost False Heather Indoors

Also called Mexican heather or elfin herb, false heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) rises from 8 inches to 2 feet tall with thin glossy green leaves 1/2 to 1-inch long. Tiny trumpet-shaped flowers about 4/10 of an inch round look in the axils of these leaves, usually in shades of purple, though white and pink varieties are available. Native to Mexico, Central America and the southeast U.S., false heather is perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 11. Its compact size also makes it suitable to be used as a houseplant.

Light and Temperature to False Heather

Although fictitious heather can tolerate full sun, the color of its foliage reportedly remains a richer green in partial shade. Consider putting it on a windowsill where it will receive approximately four hours of direct sunlight per day, preferably in the morning or day to protect it in the most intense beams of midday. If the plant’s foliage still appears faded under these conditions, move it to your place in bright, indirect light. To avoid worrying your false heather, pick a location where the temperature doesn’t fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit nor rise above 75 degrees during the light of day.

Water and Fertilizer for False Heather

Keep your plant at a well-drained all-purpose type potting soil, and water it if the surface of the soil feels dry to the touch, never allowing that dirt to become soggy or to dry out entirely. Feed your fictitious heather monthly from spring through autumn with a bloom booster type plant food such as 15-30-15, mixing 1/2 teaspoon of its own crystals using 1 gallon of water. Refrain from prying the plant through the winter months.

Pruning and Pests of False Heather

To keep fictitious heather streamlined, cut it back by approximately half in spring. Although not usually affected by insects, false heather can suffer from spider mites if allowed to dry out too often. Suspect the existence of these insects if the leaves have a mottled appearance and seem to be coated with spider webs. To see to the mites, mix 1 1/4 tablespoons of insecticidal soap concentrate with 1 quart of water. Spray the plant thoroughly, covering both of the surfaces and undersides of its leaves, after a week for 2 weeks.

Lifespan and Reproduction of False Heather

False heather generally is a plant that is fleeting and might begin to deteriorate following one to two decades. You can spread it readily, however, by recovering seedlings that have sown themselves beside the mother plant. The smallest branches of fictitious heather often root where they break on the ground as well. If so, you could be able to rejuvenate the whole plant by cutting the original stems back to just 2 inches above the ground.

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