Quiver flowers (hyssop-leaved, but you usually save that), Japanese myrtle, false heather, Japanese false myrtle … the many German names already indicate that it is a much-loved plant. Rightly so, quiver flowers grow as dainty subshrubs, give us a sea of ​​violet-blue (pink, white) flowers for months, hardly need any care and can be overwintered. A wonderfully easy-care flower for all occasions, whether in the garden bed or as a container plant on the balcony or terrace:

Location, soil & substrate

The Japanese myrtle comes from Central to South America and is called by its botanical name Cuphea hyssopifolia. She feels comfortable in the German summer climate, but has to be overwintered in the house.

The shrubs are 30 to 60 cm high and 60 cm to 1 meter wide, depending on the variety, grow comparatively quickly and are evergreen. The simple green leaves are tiny and densely packed, the dark purple (pink, white) flowers are also tiny and are in clusters from March to October. When choosing a location, it should be borne in mind that the Japanese myrtle blooms from late spring (usually the beginning of May) to the first frost, but the plants with their graceful leaves and almost 4 mm large flowers only have a slight effect from a distance. Either let the quiver flowers act over the surface or choose a location where the nicely shaped flowers can be admired from a short distance.

The false heather grows in any sunny to partially shaded location and usually tolerates all light up to full sun. In extreme heat under vertical midsummer sun, a light shade is recommended, e.g. B. with an adjustable parasol.

Japanese myrtle gets along well with the normally nutrient-rich garden soil in the bed. Difficulties could arise with compacted soils, which should be loosened up by digging under sand, otherwise mineral-rich soil with clay is well tolerated. This (loose) garden soil can also be used as a substrate in boxes and tubs, or you can mix commercially available potting soil with sand and, if you like, some clay.

The permanent bloomer adorns mixed borders and rock gardens with soil that is not too lean, as well as balcony boxes and the terrace as a container plant.

Neighboring plants as design partners

The Japanese myrtle is best complemented as a surface decoration or in a bucket with plants that like similar locations and similar care and are roughly the same size. These plants, for example:

  • Calluna vulgaris, Besenheide
  • Myrtus communis, bridal myrtle, common myrtle
  • Hyssopus officinalis, Eisenkraut, Echter Ysop
  • Epilobium angustifolium, narrow-leaved willowherb
  • Lythrum salicaria, common purple loosestrife
  • Cistus laurifolius, bay-leaved rockrose
  • Chamelaucium uncinatum, Hakiges Chamelaucium, Australian wax flower

Young plants or growing from seeds

Quiver flowers are grown in plant production in such a way that the young plants are potted in calendar week 11 (mid-March), one week later the basic pruning is carried out to promote branching. Then the plants branched out, in week 19 (mid-May) plant heights of 6-10 cm have been reached and the plants will be available for sale. The varieties ‘Mexicana’ and ‘Purple’ are already blooming at this time, the young plants will be sold until June. Certainly the most convenient way to design blooming areas with the quiver flower, they only have to be moved from the sales pot to the target location.

The cultivation from seeds is not common with Cuphea hyssopifolia, no seeds are offered in the trade (for more on this see under “Repotting, Propagation”).

Planting and care

Like real heather, the false heather is placed in the bed at a planting distance of about half the growth width. A little closer than too far apart, the plants only have one season to spread out.

The quiver flowers can be placed quite close to each other in the bucket, the main thing is that the roots have enough space in the earth. The bucket absolutely needs a drainage hole, waterlogging can kill a “false heather” just as quickly as a real heather.

Similar to the real myrtle, the pseudo myrtle is pleasantly easy to care for:

  • Normal water requirement, a little more during flower development and flowering
  • Quiver flowers in particular dry out quickly in the summer heat
  • Pour evenly when the top layer of substrate has just dried a little
  • The Japanese myrtle is sensitive to waterlogging
  • Even water collected in the saucer should be poured out regularly
  • Japanese myrtle myrtle are fertilized like all balcony and seasonal flowers of the same size
  • That means several times in the growing season, in concentrations depending on the nutrient density of the soil / substrate
  • Average requirement: Normally concentrated liquid fertilizer every 14 days during the main growing season

To cut

The Japanese myrtle grows as a subshrub, which could be described as a kind of intermediate between perennial and shrub. The characteristic of a perennial is that it produces green, non-woody plant matter; The characteristic of a shrub is that the shoots form a solid plant structure through lignification. Half-shrubs lie somewhere in between, their shoots lignify from the base. More or less quickly, more or less capable of sprouting again from woody shoots.

However, there are usually only “problems” with woody subshrubs in the garden – precisely because subshrubs in the garden typically grow without any problems Cut away shoots if you want a subshrub to stay green below / inside as long as possible. If the shoot stays on and the new shoot starts from it (further above), it lignifies a bit more at the bottom until the subshrub at some point presents itself as a “bare skeleton with a little green on the outside”.

This is easier with the Japanese phantom myrtle, it brings itself to mind in autumn when putting it in the winter quarters and in spring when clearing it out. Exactly then is the right time to cut back the quiver flowers (depending on the woody tendency of the species / cultivar by 1/2 to 1/3). Better in spring than in autumn, so that the plant can still draw a few residual nutrients from the withered shoots in winter; but if you still use the balcony or terrace in the time between the last flowering and placing it in the winter quarters, a cut immediately after flowering makes the Japanese myrtle look a little tidier for this time. If you don’t prune back at all, Cuphea hyssopifolia is said to be lignifying to a fairly large extent.


Japanese myrtle for the balcony box is placed in fresh soil every spring, Cuphea in the tub is put into larger planters in early spring when the roots no longer have enough space to grow.

In the case of the false heather, which is only available in cultivated varieties and no longer as the original species, propagation is a must, because the cultivated varieties for seasonal plants are grown in a typical way: when growing, rapid growth, from sales size administration of growth-inhibiting hormones that continue for one or two years ensure nice, compact growth. After that, the plant often falls apart and should be renewed with cuttings, you can do the same if the joy of flowering of the quiver flower wears off:

  • In early spring cut head cuttings (= shoots)
  • Comparatively short, with the dainty plant a shoot of around 5 cm is sufficient
  • The addition of rooting hormone or willow water is recommended
  • Put head cuttings in loose potting soil
  • Cover transparently
  • Put in a warm place
  • Protect from hot sunlight until the roots have taken root
  • The first new shoot shows the rooting

In plant production, Cuphea hyssopifolia young plants are usually made by propagating from cuttings. Whether this happens because the cultivar has lost its ability to reproduce or just because propagation from cuttings is so much easier and more effective is a business secret of the young plant company. You can experiment with the seeds of your own pseudo myrtle or go looking for them in exchange sites, seeds that can be bought are only offered by C. ignea.

Species + varieties

The quiver flowers (Cuphea) represent a whole genus in the family of loosestrife (Lythraceae). Loosestrife belong to the myrtle-like order and are not very present in this country. This is no wonder, 28 of 31 genera of the loosestrife family grow exclusively in tropical / subtropical areas, only a few blood loosestrife and the water nut have made it into the winter cold zones.

Most of the currently 290 recognized species of cochlea (+ a few synonyms and species that have not yet been finally recognized, there are currently 758 different botanical names for Cuphea species) probably want to stay in their warm home. So far, in any case, only three of these many types of Cuphea have been produced by the plant trade for the Central European market:

  • Cuphea ignea, cigarette flowers, smaller than C. hyssopifolia, but with the significantly larger, reddish-edged leaves and the flame-red calyx flowers an interesting alternative
  • Cuphea llavea, including a bat face, the variety with the largest flowers and 2 cultivation directions with different flower shapes
  • Cuphea hyssopifolia, Japanese myrtle, our small perennial permanent bloomer in pink, blue-violet, white

Four varieties of Japanese myrtle were tested in the Saxon State Institute for Agriculture in the horticultural department in Dresden-Pillnitz in 2009, from week 22 (end of May) to week 40 (beginning of October), in the garden bed, in sunny and shady balcony boxes. Here are the results (1 = very bad to 9 = very good):

  • Purple C. hyssopifolia, flower size bed 7.9, box sunny 7.5, box shady 7.2, height in week 30 (end of July) 19 cm
  • White C. hyssopifolia, flower size bed 7.7, box sunny 7.1, box shady 4.5, height in week 30 18 cm
  • C. hyssopifolia ‘Mexicana’, flower size bed 7.7, box sunny 7.6, box shady 7.2, height in week 30-20 cm
  • C. hyssopifolia ‘Purple’, flower size bed 7.6, box sunny 7.4, box shady 6.0, height in week 30 17 cm

Other popular varieties are ‘Flory Glory’ (flowers in bright pink), ‘Twin’ (flowers in white and pink) and ‘Myrto Purple’ (purple flowers, dark green, glossy foliage).


Cuphea hyssopifolia is known in its home country Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras as “Mexican Heather” (Mexican heather) and does not tolerate more than the local USDA hardiness zone 10b, i.e. a minimum of 1.7 ° C above zero.

So the false heather is used to lower winter temperatures and the associated break with slowed metabolism, but please without any hint of frost. It can e.g. B. overwinter together with Mediterranean plants in a bright cold house, at approx. 10 ° C and without fertilizer. The evergreen plants only get so much (little) water that they do not dry out completely, they are only cleared after the ice saints around mid-May.

In the wintering quarters, the Japanese myrtle is often visited by spider mites, mealybugs and mealybugs, which are best tackled by showering as early as possible.

Japanese myrtle as a bonsai

Cuphea hyssopifolia has very small leaves and even smaller flowers, lignifies quite strongly and still reacts very tolerantly to pruning measures – this is how a perfect bonsai candidate grows. In fact, there are already experience reports that the Japanese myrtle is wonderfully suitable for bonsai design, and a first small fan base around the Cuphea bonsai.

The bonsai also needs the summer stays outdoors, if you try to keep a Cuphea hyssopifolia as a houseplant all year round, you will not be happy with the small shrub for long.

Conclusion: The quiver flower, which at first glance seems rather inconspicuous, turns out to be a reliably growing subshrub with several talents, which is also quite easy to care for. The Japanese myrtle is impressive as a graceful, shiny, evergreen balcony and tub plant as well as in the bed, but it must be protected in the house during the winter.

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