Botanical name: Iresine herbstii
Iresine herbstii are colorful and easy to grow houseplants which require some sun exposure to bring out their bright colors. They are native to the American tropics. They grow to a height of about 2 ft and the leaves are either rounded or lance-shaped. The plants bear small, greenish-white flowers which are not as conspicuous as the brightly colored leaves. Pinch them out as soon as they begin to form so that the plant can direct its energy to growth other than developing the flowers.
The two common varieties of Iresines are Bloodleaf Plant also called Beef Steak Plant which has wine red stems and leaves with prominent red veins. The variety Iresine herbstii aureoreticulata commonly called Chicken Gizzard is more colorful with red stems, green leaves and yellow veins.
Iresines require bright light with some sunlight to enhance color. A south-facing window is ideal. However, protect them from hot sunshine. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Keep soil moist for Iresines at all times but avoid waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. Reduce watering during the cold months. The older plants can tolerate some drought. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth with a minimum of 180C is ideal for Iresines. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.
Feed Iresines fortnightly with a balanced water-soluble fertlizer during the growing season. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal. Learn more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot Iresines during the growing season only when their roots grow out of the drainage holes. Use a pot 1-2 sizes larger with a drainage hole(s) and rich, free-draining soil.
Pruning Iresines involves pinching of the growing tips to encourage bushiness and control growth and cutting back the tall stems during the growing season to prevent the plant from becoming leggy. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.
Iresines are propagated during the growing season from stem cuttings. Take 4-6 in. long stem cuttings and bearing at least one set of leaves. Insert the cuttings in moist free-draining soil and place the set up in a warm shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.
Inadequate light will cause Iresines to loss their bright leaf color. They prefer bright light with some direct sunlight.
If Iresines do not receive bright light with some sunshine, they exhibit lanky and straggly growth; they become leggy. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants
Common pests in Iresines are Aphids. These sap-sucking insects are attracted to the new soft growth. They cause distorted growth of the plant.
Iresines are non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors. However, the plant sap may cause irritation on sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling.