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Chenille plant, Red-hot cattail
Chenille plants are erect,
sparsely branched shrubs that can grow 6 to 12 feet high with a
spread of 3 to 6 feet. Potted plants are kept considerably
smaller. These plants have evergreen leaves and feathery flowers
that are clustered in velvety, pendulous, tassel-like spikes
that can be 8 to 20 inches long and up to an inch in diameter.
They are dense and fluffy, like a cat’s tail, and they appear
intermittently throughout the year.
Chenille plants’ flowers are
red, purple and white.
Each bloom cycle will last for
several weeks. With proper care and favorable conditions, the
plants may bloom several times a year. Chenille plants can
survive for years, depending on the environment.
Chenille plants are available
year-round, usually from local markets and growers.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
Bright, indirect light is best for plants displayed indoors.
Full sun is tolerated outdoors.
Keep the soil moist at all times. Avoid standing water,
irregular watering and overhead watering.
Chenille plants should be displayed in warm
areas. Daytime temperatures of 65 F to 80 F and a minimum
nighttime temperature of 60 F are best. Do not refrigerate the
plants; sudden drops in temperature may result in wilt and
Moist air is essential for success with chenille plants. Mist
the leaves frequently, and surround the pots with damp peat, or
stand them on pebble trays. Dry air will cause leaf drop and
allow red spider mites to flourish.
Feed the plants every three weeks during the growing
season with a bloom fertilizer.
The plants do best in fertile, moist, well-drained soils.
Cut chenille plants back when they have finished flowering to
remove straggly branches and faded flowers and to keep the
plants compact and neat. Older, woody plants can be cut back
halfway to encourage new growth.
The plants should be repotted every spring.
Ingestion of the plants can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Contact with the leaves’ and stems’ milky sap can result in
Watch for red spider mites, scales and mealybugs on
indoor plants. Control them with insecticidal soap.
SENSITIVITY Chenille plants show no sensitivity to
IN A NAME The name “Acalypha” comes from the Greek word
These plants are members of the Euphorbiaceae, or spurge,
family, a large family of flowering plants with 240 genera and
than 6,000 species. Relatives include Codiaeum (croton)
and Euphorbia pulcherrima (poinsettia). Commercial
products from the Euphorbiaceafamily include
rubber (Hevea), tung oil (Aleurites), castor oil (Ricinus),
and cassava and tapioca (Manihot).
SWEET HOME Chenille plants are native to Malaysia.
information provided by:
Carolina Cooperative Extension, www.ces.ncsu.edu
Missouri Botanical Garden, www.mobot.org
New House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
“Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 239-3140.
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