27 May 2009

Chenille Plant

If you have a tree and a partly shady place under that tree, a Chenille Plant (Acalypha hispida) could be just what you are looking for to add interest to an otherwise plant-free place. The RHS database says Acalypha hispaniolae pendula is a Euphorbiaceae with common names such as Hispaniola Cat's Tail, Chenille Plant and Red Hot Cat's Tail. Also, that it is a Plant of Merit.

Chenille Plant is from the East Indies so it is hardy in Florida, Southern California and other zone 10 gardens. It is an in-the-ground shrub in full sun in its native country.
Here in Zone 7 it is a houseplant in the winter or an annual if you choose to let it go when frost arrives.
Matthew Weatherbee at Blossom's Garden Center where I got the plant, said it takes more water than you might think and my Internet research confirms that it is NOT drought tolerant.
At Dave's Garden, people who have grown the plant say water, fertilizer and morning sun only are the keys to happiness. One gardener said it is a drama queen that pouts whenever its water needs are not met.
Loggee's has a few Acalphya varieties you can order by mail. Their "Strawberry Firetails" looks cool, too. Its catkins are more of a bright strawberry red.
This one is a beauty and I'm looking forward to watching those cattails grow.

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