Family: Red Hot Cat’s Tail, Beefsteak Plant, Fire Dragon Plant, Copper Leaf, EUPHORBIACEAE
Do You Know?
Acalyphas are eye-catching plants for the warmer climate or glasshouse. The Red Hot Cat’s Tail (Acalypha hispida) is noted for woolly red flower spikes which droop to a length of 45cm/18in all over the plant, and are spectacular in a mature specimen.
Warmth, high humidity and plenty of liquid fertilizer are advisable. Its cousin Acalypha wilkesiana, a tall shrub with variegated red and pink leaves, might be mistaken for an overgrown Coleus. It is actually related to the Poinsettia. Of tropical origin, it grows quite satisfactorily in mild coastal areas with winter temperatures down to 70C/450F, though with some loss of leaves.
They strike easily from cuttings in warm weather. Plant several of them in a large pot for maximum display; cut back to about 25cm/10in and fertilize in late winter to stimulate growth. They’ll look good all year round in a sheltered courtyard or sunroom, or can be used as a hedge or background plant. Many colour varieties are available.