Iresine, the Plant Species With Red Leaves
Iresine, also known as blood leaf, is a beautiful houseplant with deep red stems and leaves. It is native to tropical America and is a member of the family Amaranthaceae.
- While there are 20 - 25 species of Iresine, only a handful are grown for ornamental purposes.
- They require a minimum temperature of 50 - 60F, and in countries where the temperature drops below this, they should be either grown as houseplants or placed outside for the summer and taken indoors in winter.
- For those who live in USDA zone 10 or above, it can be planted in the garden where it will grow quite happily as a perennial provided it is given sufficient water. Iresine are very thirsty plants during their growing season. They prefer neutral to acidic soil.
- In cooler climates, it can be grown as an annual and prefer being positioned in full sun. They will be killed off by frost.
- When grown as a houseplant, it is better to grow Iresine next to an east or west facing window. They like the light but direct sunshine will make them stretch and grow straggly.
Iresine Propagation and Care
Cuttings can be taken at any time of the year. Simply nip off a growing shoot and place in water or directly into a compost-filled pot where it will root quite easily so long as the soil is kept moist. This can be ensured by sealing the pot inside a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Remove from plastic bag when plant shows signs of new growth.
Iresine should have their growing tips regularly pinched out to ensure a more bushy and compact growth.
They appreciate being fed with a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer roughly every two to three weeks during their growing season
They are very thirsty plants and need to be watered frequently.
Common types of Iresine grown for ornamental purposes are:
- Iresine herbstii - spear-shaped bronze/red foliage with a red stripe. Alternate names are Beefsteak plant or Chicken Gizzard.
- Iresine aureoreticulata - red stems with yellow striped green oval waxy leaves.
- Iresine lindenii - scarlet-striped deep red narrow strap-like leaves.
- Iresine wallisii - smaller oval leaves that are bronze on top and dark red underneath.
While they look great in containers on their own, they can be mixed with other ornamental flowers to make a stunning display.
Iresine rarely produce flowers, which are small and insignificant as could be expected from a plant with such attractive leaves and stems.