Acalypha is a large genus of about 430 species of shrubs, trees, and annuals from tropical and subtropical regions. They can be used outdoors in warmer areas or grown in a greenhouse or as houseplants. The genus includes the familiar chenille plant ( A. hispida ), often grown in hanging baskets, and A. wilkesiana , also known as copperleaf or Jacob’s coat. Some species are grown for their foliage, which can be multi-colored, others are grown for their catkin-like racemes of flowers, which on some plants are large and vividly colored.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsEvergreen plants grown for their decorative foliage and sometimes unusual-looking flowers.
CareOutdoors, plant in fertile, moist but well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, in sun or part shade. Indoors, grow in a soilless mix in full or filtered light. Water freely and fertilize monthly during the growing season, but water only moderately in winter.
PropagationDivide rhizomatous or clump-forming species in spring. Root softwood cuttings in early spring, or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer, using bottom heat.
ProblemsIndoors, plants may be affected by scale insects, mealybugs, whiteflies, and spider mites. Downy mildew, powdery mildew, rust, leaf spots, and fungal root rots occur in the garden.