Iresine - Blood Leaf
DESCRIPTION: These plants are grown for their richly colored leaves. They are natives to tropical America. There are between 20 and 25 species, but only a few are cultivated. I. Herbstii has purplish-red stems and leaves and will stay 12-20 inches tall if the shoots are pinched. Its variety aureoreticulata has oval, waxy leaves that are mid-green with bright to pale yellow or red veins. They grow on fleshy, red stems. I. Wallisii has smaller leaves that are bronze-red above and dark red underneath. Iresine rarely produce flowers, which are insignificant anyway, because they are propagated by cuttings and their shoots are pinched.
POTTING: These plants need a minimum temperature between 50 and 60 degrees. In cool climates, they should be grown in a house or greenhouse, or they may be planted outside during the summer and brought in before frost. They should be grown in two-thirds loam, one-third leaf mold or peat moss and decayed manure. Water them abundantly while they are growing actively, otherwise moderately. Pinch the young growing tips to encourage bushiness.
PROPAGATION: Cuttings taken in the spring can be used to increase this plant. The shoots are inserted in sand and placed in a propagating case in a greenhouse that has a temperature of 60 degrees. When they've formed roots, they should be potted in 3-inch pots in the compost as described above in potting. If they are planted outside for the summer they should be placed 6-10 inches apart.
VARIETIES: I. Herbstii; I. aureo-reticulata; I. Wallisii; I. Lindenii.
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