This plant goes by many common names, which includes chenille plant, red hot cat’s tail, foxtail, and Philippine’s Medusa. But regardless of what common name you know it as; its scientific name is Acalypha hispida. This plant can be grown outdoors permanently in warmer areas or as a houseplant. While the foliage is the typical green color that creates a monochromatic backdrop for the real show piece of this plant, which are the flowers. Believe it or not, the flowers do look like red hot cat’s tails drooping down over the side of the foliage.
Growing the chenille plant is not difficult. To begin with, this plant is propagated by semi-ripe wood in the summer. Once rooted, plant this plant in a hanging basket so that the drooping flowers can be displayed properly.
While your chenille plant outside was placed in full sun, indoors it will need to be placed in an area that receives indirect sunlight. Room temperatures are also important and are really no problem in the indoor environment. The nighttime temperature needs to be a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit while the daytime temperature need not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chenille plant likes a soil that is evenly moist all the time but not wet. To accomplish this, simply water the plant until you see moisture come out of the bottom of the hanging basket but………do not get the flowers wet.
Feeding your plant will keep it looking its best. But there are months that you need to avoid due to the fact that the growing season has passed. Instead of wasting your fertilizer, avoid feeding October through February. What do you feed this plant? Well a 1:2:1 fertilizer formulation is fine.
To spur new growth, prune back the plant heavily in the spring.
When comes to pests and/or plant diseases, the chenille plant is pretty much safe. The only time that problems really appear is when the plant is not receiving enough sun. If this is the case, you can expect to find scale, aphids and/or mites. These problems can be treated with an insecticidal soap but if you find them on your chenille plant, make sure to check your other houseplants and treat accordingly.
While the chenille plant makes a colorful addition to your houseplant collection, do not forget to slowly introduce it to the outdoor environment when the weather warms. In doing so, you can sure the beauty of this plant inside and out.