Copper Plant - Acalypha wilkesiana

Botanical Name: Acalypha wilkesiana and Hybrids

Some common names for this plant are Copperleaf, Fire Dragon and Jacob's Coat. 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. '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. 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 by half every spring. Pruning encourages a flush of new stems and leaves.

Year-Round Care for Acalypha Wilkesiana

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.

Watch for pests. Check for mealy bugs and spider mites. If you see any signs of pests, isolate your plant and treat any infestation immediately.

Copper Plant Care Tips

acalypha wilkesiana, copper plant, copperleaf

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. Use a pot with a drainage hole.

Humidity: Moderate to high (above 50%). Use a cool-mist humidifier or pebble tray to raise the humidity.

Temperature: Average to warm 65-80°F/18-27°C; Copper Plant 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.

  1. Home
  2. Houseplants A-Z