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Plant: Cuphea hyssopifolia (COO-fee-a hiss-op-ee-FOL-ee-a), known as false heather or Florida heather but not really related to heather.Origin: Highlands of Central America.

Characteristics: Bushy and low-growing perennial, 1 to 2 feet, with small leaves and flowers, cuphea makes a good border plant or a bedding plant. Flowers bloom much of the year in white and shades of lilac or red, varying in size among hybrids and clones.

Growing tips: Full sun to shifting shade of tall pines in frost-free, salt-free areas is best. Fibrous roots need mulch to help retain moisture and frequent, light fertilization. Preference is for acidic, fertile conditions similar to azalea needs. Propagation is by cuttings of tips almost any time of year. Plants may also reseed. If not hurt too badly by cold, plants may return from roots.

Shown: Cultivated Allison variety grown and sold by students in the horticulture department of St. Petersburg's Pinellas Technical Education Center.