Botanical Name: Acalypha wilkesiana and Hybrids
Coppery red foliage is the hallmark of spectacular Copper Plant. However, there are dozens of cultivars.
You'll find varieties with leaves streaked, splashed and edged with pink, red, bronze, purple and green, each one prettier than the other. Those vibrant leaves can grow up to 5 in (13 cm) long, often with sawtoothed edges.
Acalypha wilkesiana is a vigorous grower. You'll have a big shrub before you know it, so it's a good idea to prune it back each year.
Shed some light. Put your plant where it'll get plenty of light, but out of direct sun. Filtered light from a south- or west-facing window will give it the light it needs.
Cut it back. You can keep the plant compact and full by pruning it back by half in spring. You'll get more beautiful foliage this way. Do not pinch off growing tips, though; this plant branches out naturally.
Repot in spring. Move the plant up one pot size when its roots fill the pot.
Origin: Java and New Guinea
Height: Up to 6 ft (1.8 m) if not cut back
Light: Bright light is essential for good leaf color. Protect plant from hot midday sun, which may cause brown scorch marks on the leaves.
Water: Keep the soil evenly moist year-round, but take care not to overwater. Soggy soil will cause this plant to wilt.
Humidity: Moderate to high (above 50%). Use a room humidifier or pebble tray to raise the humidity.
Temperature: Average to warm 65-80°F/18-27°C; Acalypha wilkesiana will tolerate temps as low as 60°F/16°C.
Soil: Good-quality potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Take 3 in (8 cm) stem tip cuttings in early spring and pot them in equal parts coarse sand and peat moss. Use a heat mat to maintain a steady 75°F/24°C.
Some common names for this plant are Copperleaf, Fire Dragon and Jacob's Coat. Many varieties are available in spring and summer.
'Mooreana' has deeply veined maroon leaves with serrated edges.
'Marginata' features bronze leaves edged with red and 'Can Can' is a popular variety splashed with dark pink and creamy white.
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