Botanical Name: Iresine herbstii
Bright red leaves with prominent red veins are the attraction of this Brazilian plant. Luckily for us, it also happens to adapt well to being indoors, making it a spectacular room accent.
Small flowers may appear in summer. You can pinch them off, if you want, because they aren't nearly as stunning as the brilliant foliage.
This tropical native needs warmth, humidity and plenty of light to thrive. Put it near a window or in a sunroom to maintain its vibrant color. If you set it on your porch or patio for the summer, keep it shaded from hot, direct sunlight.
Repot in spring. When you see roots growing out of the drainage holes, it is time to repot. Move it up to a container just 1-2 inches larger, using a pot with drainage holes to prevent soggy soil. If you want to use a container without drainage holes, use it as a cachepot. Just slip a plain nursery pot into the cachepot. I put pebbles in the bottom of cachepots to keep the pot above the drainage water.
Prune it back. As older leaves fall off, this plant will become leggy as it grows. Pinch off soft stem tips to keep Iresine herbstii compact. Don't toss out those cuttings, either. Pot them up to grow more plants.
Watch for aphids. These tiny pests are attracted to the soft, new growth on the plant. Treat any infestation immediately.
Height: Up to 2 ft (60 cm)
Light: Bright light is necessary to prevent the bright leaf color from fading. Shade the plant from hot, direct summer sun. It thrives under indoor grow lights.
Water: Water thoroughly, aiming to keep the potting mix lightly moist at all times. Empty drainage tray to prevent soggy soil, which can lead to root rot.
Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures 65-80°F/18-27°C. Iresine will tolerate a minimum of 55°F/13°C in winter.
Soil: Any good-quality potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Take 3-4 in (8-10 cm) soft stem tip cuttings in early spring and root them in moist perlite. They root easily.