I usually have at least one blog entry per year singing the praises of this unique plant, the Mexican cigar plant or cuphea ignea. Looking at the blooms, it should be obvious why it has this name. The little blooms closely resemble small cigars or cigarettes. If that's what the blooms are, then hummingbirds are notorious nicotine addicts, because they love the blooms on this plant.
The blooms usually begin for me in early May and continue right up till the first frost of Autumn. These plants thrive on heat and humidity, being native to Mexico and Central America. The blooms are profuse for nearly the whole time.
The plant itself has a pleasing and full form if kept pinched back. Occasionally through the year if mine starts to look lanky, I'll prune the tips back to encourage a more full look. The leaves are a pleasing dark green that contrasts well with the bright orange flowers. The shrub only gets to about 4' high for me and maybe 2.5' wide.
The plant dies to the ground in my zone 8b yard, but it has reliably come back for several years with no special protection. It comes up from the roots once the ground warms up in the spring. It prefers a sunny spot and semi-tropical conditions. I wouldn't use it for a dry spot, though it does take minor droughts well. As mentioned above, this is certainly one of the best hummingbird plants you can put in the ground, so it's truly worthy for that reason alone. It's such a no-fuss workhorse that I really recommend it for the South. It would probably be only an annual in zones any further north than zone 7b.