Iresine herbstii

Common Name: Herbst's bloodleaf 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Amaranthaceae
Native Range: Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru
Zone: 10 to 12
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Tolerate: Wet Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-12 where it is usually grown in moist well-drained soils in full sun. In St. Louis, it is grown as a houseplant or garden annual. As a houseplant, it needs a soil-based potting mix and bright indoor light with morning sun, but some protection from direct afternoon summer sun. Keep soils consistently moist in the growing season, but reduce moisture from fall to late winter. Pinch tips to maintain shape and to promote bushier foliage. Also, consider pinching out any flower buds that may appear to concentrate plant energies on the foliage. Indoor plants may be taken outdoors in summer. When grown outdoors as an annual, plants or late-summer stem cuttings therefrom may be overwintered indoors. If plants become leggy, cuttings may be easily rooted in water to produce new plants each year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Iresine herbstii, commonly called bloodleaf or beefsteak plant. is native to Brazil. It is noted for its ornamental foliage. This is a short-lived perennial that is often grown as an annual. In its native habitat, it may grow to 5’ tall with spread to 3’ wide. Potted indoor plants grow much smaller, typically being pruned to 12-18” tall. Red stems and oval purple-red leaves (to 4” long) with notched tips and light red veins. Requires sun exposure for best foliage color. Inconspicuous greenish-white flowers. Rarely blooms in cultivation.

Genus name comes from the Greek word eiresione meaning a branch or wreath wrapped with wool in probable reference to the woolly flowers.

‘Brilliantissima’ features purplish-red leaves with pink veins. ‘Aureoreticulata’ features green leaves with yellow veins.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to powdery mildew. Watch for aphids and spider mites. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Uses

Excellent accent plant.