Acalypha hispida
Common Name: red hot cat's tail 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Native Range: New Guinea, Malaysia
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: Red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Clay Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10 to 11. In its native area, it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions from acidic to slightly alkaline and will grow in sand, loam or clay. It has moderate drought tolerance and poor salt tolerance and will grow in full sun to part shade. In the St. Louis area, it must be grown in containers which can be placed outside on decks and patios during warm weather or it can be grown indoors year-round in an area that receives bright, indirect light. When placed outside, avoid direct afternoon sun. In winter, plants benefit from misting to maintain higher humidity levels, but do not spray flowers. They are relatively trouble free, but watch for mealybugs, red spider mites and scale. Prune severely to 4 to 8 inches in spring to encourage new growth and increased bloom; remove spent flowers. Indoors, keep soil moderately moist, but not soggy. Feed monthly from March to September.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Acalypha hispida, commonly called chenille plant, is a beautiful flowering plant that has a long bloom period. The flowers, which droop in cattail-like pendent clusters up to 18 inches in length are bright red to deep pink. In zones 10 to 11 it is a vigorous, upright, coarse-textured shrub that usually attains a height of 5 to 6 feet that is commonly used as an accent, hedge, specimen or container plant. In St. Louis, it is a good container, hanging basket and greenhouse plant, when taken indoors in the fall. Its long period of bloom makes it a showy centerpiece for any tropical or subtropical garden. It features leaves that are 6 to 8 inches long, ovate and medium green.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for nettles because of the nettle-like appearance of the leaves.

Specific epithet means bristly in probable reference to the bristly nature of the leaves. Another common name for this species is bristly copperleaf.


For best indoor success, very high humidity should be maintained. Spider mites, mealybugs and scale may be a problem, especially when grown indoors.


In St. Louis, grow in containers or baskets on decks, patios or rooftop gardens. It is a good plant for color and should be used as an accent for both color and texture in a container. Or, it can be grown year-round in a greenhouse or sun room giving the area a tropical feel.