ACALYPHA HISPIDA (red hot cat’s tail)

16 deg C/61 deg F

This is a very striking plant from New Guinea, with long, dangling flower spikes, like catkins, bright crimson in colour when well grown. It has only recently been introduced as a house-plant, but is difficult to grow unless constant warmth and high humidity can be maintained.

At the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew it is grown in the tropical waterlily house where it reaches almost to the roof, in the warm atmosphere, making a most impressive sight. In the home it will rarely compare: but spraying with a mist of water in summer helps, and the compost – preferably a peat-based type –

must also then be kept quite moist. Give a position in good light, but not direct sunshine, as this helps to achieve the best leaf colouring.

The most common pests are red spider mite and mealy bug. and the under-surface of the foliage should be inspected regularly. To deter red spider, spray under the leaves with water during hot dry weather. The plants are soon liable to deteriorate where there is dry heating such as radiators without humidifiers, or electric fires. Standing the plants on a wide tray of moisture-retaining material may help to maintain sufficient humidity. Should the plants become too tall, they can be cut back in spring. There is a cultivar called ‘Alba’ with creamy-white catkins. It is sometimes sold by high-class florists.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.