Copper leaf plant | Acalypha wilkesiana – House Plants
Copper leaf plant | Acalypha wilkesiana is an evergreen, ornamental shrub growing up to 2m tall. It has a closely arranged crown, with an erect stem and numerous branches. Both the branches and the leaves are covered in fine hairs The leaves, which may be flat or crinkled, are large and broad with teeth around the edge. They can be 4 – 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. The leaves are coppery green with red splashes, giving them a mottled appearance. Separate male and female blossoms appear on the same plant. The male blossoms are in long spikes which hang downwards while the female blooms are in short spikes.
Scientific Name: Acalypha wilkesiana
Synonyms: Acalypha tricolor, Acalypha amentacea Roxb. var. wilkesiana
Common Names: Copperleaf, Jacob’s coat, Flamengueira, Fijian fire plant, Fire Dragon Plant, Beefsteak Plant.
How to grow and maintain Copper leaf plant | Acalypha wilkesiana:
It grows well in bright, indirect light to partial shade. Protect the plant from the hot midday sun, which may cause brown scorch marks on the leaves.
In outdoors, copperleaf does best in a rich, moist, but fast-draining soil. Indoor plants do better in a soilless potting mix, with the medium constantly moist, but not saturated.
Water regularly, keep the soil evenly moist year-round but never allow your plant to sit in water. Soggy soil will cause this plant to wilt. Use a pot with a drainage hole.
It prefers ideal daytime temperatures of 65°F to 80°F / 18°C – 27°C and a minimum nighttime temperature of 60°F / 16°C are best.
It prefers moderate to high (above 50%). Use a cool-mist humidifier or pebble tray to raise the humidity.
Fertilize every two weeks spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Copper leaf plant can be easily propagated by stem cuttings. Take 8 cm stem tip cuttings in early spring and put them in equal parts coarse sand and peat moss. Use a heat mat to maintain a steady 75°F/24°C.
Pests and Diseases:
Copper leaf plant is susceptible to mealy bug infection, which can result in growth retardation and also cause high fungal contaminations. To reduce the mealy bug’s infection, 90% ethanol can be directly applied to the infestations using paint brushes.
Medicinal Benefits Acalypha wilkesiana:
- Acalypha wilkesiana ointment is used to treat fungal skin diseases. It was very effective in treating Pityriasis Versicolor, Tinea pedia, and Candida intertrigo. The plant is abortifacient, antibacterial, antifungal and antinematodal.
- The leaves are squeezed into water and the resulting juice is drunk as a treatment for diarrhoea and dysentery and the leaves are chewed on as a first-aid treatment for a ruptured appendix.
- The leaves are boiled in water and used as a massage for patients with fevers.
- The juice of fresh leaves is drunk as a treatment for laryngitis.
- They are chewed on as a first-aid treatment for a ruptured appendix.
- The fresh shoots are squeezed into water and the solution drunk to regulate menstruation and as an abortifacient.
- The fresh, leafy branches are applied externally in order to induce perspiration, apparently for their rubefacient effect.
- The fresh young leaves, combined with the leaves of Ocimum basilicum, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, and Euodia hortensis, are placed in a bowl of hot water and the vapor released is breathed in to bring relief from pneumonia, malaria, pain, and fever.