Mexican Heather – A Hardy Plant for Your Garden

Hannah Mitchell

January 4, 2022

What is Mexican Heather?

Also known as false heather or Elfin herb, Mexican heather is a flowering, tropical shrub, often used as ground cover. Originating in Mexico and Guatemala, this plant does well in warm climates like ours! It is winter hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, and it can’t survive freezing temperatures. Mexican heather grows easily outdoors in the southern United States, as well as in Hawaii, where it's called the Hawaiian heather.  

The Mexican heather plant features small, trumpet-shaped flowers that come in pink, white, or lavender color and are contrasted by delicate evergreen green leaves. The plant has many branches and grow to be round in shape. The flowers bloom in the spring, lasting through the summer and even the fall. They sprout in the leaf axis along the plant’s stem, and attract pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.

Mexican heather flowering

How to Plant Mexican Heather

It’s easy to plant Mexican heather! This drought-tolerant plant loves full sun and enjoys the sizzling Florida heat. It grows well in any soil, so long as it has good drainage. If the soil is weak, adding compost or manure will provide additional nutrients to boost this plant’s strength. When first planted, Mexican heather should be watered once or twice a week to ensure the soil remains moist, so give it water whenever the soil is dry to the touch. After a year or two, this plant often doesn't need any watering. If planted in a container, however, it will need more water, especially in the hot summer months. 

Mexican heather plants can be lightly pruned in the spring if the plants become scraggly or overgrown in appearance. This will improve the appearance and density. While you’re at it, you may want to surround your plants with a layer of mulch in order to keep in moisture and prevent weeds from springing up. Keep an eye on your Mexican heather's spreading habits, as this plant self-seeds profusely and can become invasive. Consider removing seedlings when they appear, or growing this plant in areas where it won't spread easily.

Mexican Heather blooming in full sun

As for pests, the Mexican heather remains fairly resilient in its growth and health, but may need attention if spider mites or flea beetles come to visit. Spider mites are more likely to appear when this plant is grown indoors, or during hot and dry spells. Flea beetles leave tiny holes in the leaves and stems, which damages and can even  kill the plant eventually. Start by spraying plants with water, and consider insecticide if the issue persists. Using a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can be helpful for your Mexican heather, providing nutrition throughout the growing season. Talk to the professionals at LawnMore for more specifics on fertilization choices.   

Beetle crawling on leaf

Where is the best place to plant Mexican heather?

Mexican heather thrives in full sun and high heat. Grow it in an area where it can receive direct sunlight for 4-8 hours, and get partial shade at other times in the day. 

Does Mexican heather plant spread?

When it comes to spacing, leave 18 inches between each plant, as they spread wide and low, growing about 1.5 to 2 feet high and up to 2.5 feet wide.

Mexican heather growing in spring

What looks good with Mexican heather?

You can grow Mexican heather as an attractive edging or border plant, or even as a small hedge for gardens or around the corners of sidewalks or pathways. It can also serve as a filler plant with other flowers and foliage for flower beds, window boxes, or containers or pots to decorate your patio or deck. This plant is a wonderful and versatile option for almost any landscape! For more information on Mexican heather landscape ideas, talk to your friends at LawnMore about how to incorporate it into your Florida yard.

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