Imagine a cottage garden or border bed embellished with candy corn flowers that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees during late summer. It is the perfect way to set the mood for autumn and Halloween.
- 1. Firecracker Vine (Manettia Inflata)
- 2. Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia)
- 3. Mexican Cigar Plant (Cuphea Ignea)
- 4. Moullava Spicata
- 5. Heart-Leaved Penstemon (Keckiella Cordifolia)
- 6. Chilean Holly (Desfontainia Spinosa)
- 7. Brazilian Fuchsia (Justicia Floribunda)
- 8. Mountain Aloe (Aloe Marlothii)
- 9. Spirea Double Play Candy Corn (Japanese Spirea)
Candy corn is a sickly-sweet harbinger of autumn and Halloween. Its namesake is not derived from its flavor profile but rather from its unique corn kernel shape. On the other hand, the candy corn plant (Cuphea micropetala) is a petite, semi-woody evergreen shrub. It gets its unique name from the blooms that resemble the familiar candy corn sweets.
The plant boasts upright, vibrant red stems, narrow green leaves, and red and yellow tubular flowers that mimic the kernels of candy corn. Here are the top look-alike plants that create a similar candy festival in your backyard.
1. Firecracker Vine (Manettia Inflata)
The firecracker vine (Manettia inflata), also known as the candy corn vine, is a gorgeous evergreen perennial vine with oval leaves, slender stems, and petite, bell-shaped flowers with orange-red bodies and yellow tips.
This vine can spread to three feet and may reach a height of up to ten feet, depending on its growing location and zone. It thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. In ideal conditions, the plant will adorn your garden with year-round blooms.
The firecracker vine has minimal care requirements. You can grow the plant on a trellis, drape it from a hanging basket on your patio, or keep it meat a sunny south or west-facing window with consistently moist soil.
2. Red Hot Pokers (Kniphofia)
Red hot pokers (Kniphofia) are unique, herbaceous perennials with tall, upright flower spikes in warm colors that remind us of candy corn. Also known as torch lilies, red hot pokers can bloom in vibrant orange, yellow, scarlet, white, and bi-colors.
There are over 60 Kniphofia species, of which our favorite variety is the ‘Bees Sunset.’ This colorful poker boasts bright orange flowerheads born atop bronze stems that fade to a soft yellow as they age.
Red hot pokers are the perfect addition to add bold contrasting texture to your garden landscape. They are rewarding, long-lived plants that attract a myriad of hummingbirds and other pollinators. Keep them in full sun and well-draining soil.
3. Mexican Cigar Plant (Cuphea Ignea)
The Mexican cigar plant (Cuphea ignea) is a tropical evergreen shrub native to Mexico. At first glance, you may mistake the Mexican cigar plant for a candy corn plant as they have similar sizes and shaped flowers.
The Mexican cigar shrub boasts bright orange-red tubular flowers with white and black tips that can be compared to a lit cigar. The blooms grow year-round if you live in hot, tropical regions. They are a fabulous attraction for hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.
The shrub rarely exceeds 25 inches in height. It is the perfect ornamental piece for a border or bedding. You can also pop it into a pot to add color to your patio, terrace, or balcony.
4. Moullava Spicata
Moullava spicata is a robust vining candy corn variety native to India. It is a prolific bloomer – the woody and prickly stems are embellished with marble-size seeds that resemble candy corn sweets when the yellow hues poke through.
The seeds transform into racemes of vibrant flowers from late spring to late autumn. The colorful flowers frequently attract life to your garden, including pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.
The beautiful vine can climb up to 20 feet high. The moullava spicata thrives in full sun to partial shade and prefers regular watering. It is hardy to hardy zones 9 to 11. If you live in a colder area, we recommend potting the vine and moving it indoors before the first frost.
5. Heart-Leaved Penstemon (Keckiella Cordifolia)
Heart-leaved penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) is a spectacular spreading vine-like shrub that sports flowers in similar colors to candy corn during late spring and early summer. These pretty blooms vary from orange to scarlet – they are a real treat for hummingbirds.
The heart-leaved penstemon has gracefully arching stems that reach 6 feet high with a 10-foot spread. The sprawling stems often intertwine with nearby plants, shrubs, and trees. Besides the plant’s gorgeous flowers, its vines carry glossy, dark green heart-shaped leaves edged with tiny teeth.
Plant your penstemon in full sun or light shade and well-draining soil. It is the perfect addition to a coastal garden. You can sprawl it down a slope, between boulders, or incorporate it between other native shrubs to prolong their bloom period.
6. Chilean Holly (Desfontainia Spinosa)
Chilean holly (Desfontainia spinosa) is a handsome, slow-growing evergreen shrub with dark green holly-like leaves and vibrant flowers that resemble candy corn. The blooms have orange or scarlet bodies with bright yellow-tipped lobes.
The dramatic and unusual shrub blooms from summer through autumn, making it an ideal addition to cottage gardens, flower beds and borders, prairie planting, and low-maintenance gardens. It will celebrate autumn and Halloween with its candy corn-like flowers.
The Chilean holly thrives in USDA hardy zones 8 to 9. This hardy bush is a slow grower but eventually reaches up to 6 feet tall. Keep the plant sheltered with partial shade and hummus-rich soil for best results.
7. Brazilian Fuchsia (Justicia Floribunda)
Brazilian Fuchsia (Justicia floribunda) is a small, rounded evergreen bush with dark green, ovate leaves and little nodding clusters of two-lipped red and yellow flowers that resemble candy corn. The vibrant tubular-shaped blooms nod their heads from late autumn to early spring.
The Brazilian fuchsia reaches 3 to 4 feet high and wide. While it can tolerate shade, the flowers bloom profusely, given direct sunlight. They grow with minimal problems but need regular pruning.
These shrubs are best suited for outdoor environments like Mediterranean gardens and greenhouses. Still, they also make a gorgeous patio or indoor houseplant. We recommend leaning towards the dwarf Brazilian fuchsia that grows up to 24 inches for houseplants.
8. Mountain Aloe (Aloe Marlothii)
Mountain Aloe (Aloe marlothii) is a large evergreen succulent that adds a majestic presence to your garden. It is prized for its attractive rosette of blue-gray fleshy foliage and panicles of tubular flowers that resemble candy corn.
The mountain aloe reaches 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. The leaves grow to 5 feet long and are covered in rusty spines along the edges.
Mountain aloes are a bold and robust addition to your yard. They make a beautiful display in succulent, rock, and Mediterranean gardens. We recommend combining various sizes and textures of succulents to create a vibrant, lush, and drought-tolerant landscape.
9. Spirea Double Play Candy Corn (Japanese Spirea)
Spirea Double Play Candy Corn (Japanese Spirea) is a dazzling shrub with a round habit and contrasting oval leaves to the typical green foliage in most landscape shrubs. While the flowers look nothing like candy corn, the colorful leaves perfectly display candy corn hues – hence the name.
In spring, the leaves are a fiery candy apple red and later mature to a vibrant yellow. As the new leaves continue to emerge all season, the deciduous bush offers a striking display of red, orange, and golden hues. In summer, the Japanese spirea boasts clusters of deep purple flowers on the tips of the branches.
The Japanese spirea for adding a bright contrast to your cottage garden, borders, city gardens, and container plants. The best thing is that these shrubs are virtually pest and disease free.