Bloodleaf: Adds Burgundy Red Foliage To Your Garden Or Containers

Bloodleaf: Adds Burgundy Red Foliage To Your Garden Or Containers

BloodleafIresine herbstii, or commonly referred to as bloodleaf is a tender perennial or annual grown mainly for its colorful burgundy red foliage. It requires minimum temperatures of 50-59F; in most gardens it should be treated as an annual.

Bloodleaf will reach a height of about 24 inches in ideal conditions. Once established it will withstand periods of dry and neglect. This plant prefers a frost-free position, so try to make use of trees or buildings to help provide protection.

How To Make Your Bloodleaf Thrive

Ideal conditions dappled shade (it will grow in full sun), and loamy well drained soil. If you pinch the tips you will promote bushy growth during the growing season.  Although bloodleaf thrives in rich soil, it adapts to nearly any well-drained soil, including sand or loam. Poorly drained or compacted, clay-based soil is improved by the addition of up to 4 inches of organic material such as compost, aged manure, leaf mold or peat.

Iresine herbstii is frost tender and its stems are soft and brittle, so it needs protection from frost and strong winds.

Water and Air

Bloodleaf requires regular watering, but consistently soggy soil often results in problems such as powdery mildew and rot. The key to preventing moisture-related problems is to soak the roots and then allow the soil to dry before the next watering. Overcrowding by planting it too close to other plants also contributes to powdery mildew and other problems.


Iresine herbstii benefits from regular feeding with a balanced, general-purpose fertilizer with a ratio such as 14-14-14 or 20-20-20. The fertilizer should be applied once a month throughout spring and summer, according to rate specifications on the label. Don’t over feed the plant, as too many nutrients will put the plant at risk of powdery mildew. Regular pinching creates a bushy, compact plant and prevents your bloodleaf from becoming leggy. Pinch about 1 inch from the tips of each stem until the plant reaches the desired level.

General Bloodleaf Information

Pests and Diseases

Bloodleaf is susceptible to infestations of aphids and spider mites, although healthy, properly maintained plants are more resistant.


Iresine herbstii is really easy to propagate. Take cuttings about 4 inches long, with at least three sets of leaves. Remove the bottom set of leaves and cut the larger leaves in half to reduce transpiration. Insert the cuttings directly into the soil. Transplant them a couple of months after they have taken root.

Garden Uses

Bloodleaf is appropriate for flower beds, borders or containers; you can plant it as a perennial in hardiness zones 10a through 11a. In cooler climates, it is often grown as an annual or as an indoor plant.

Additional Information

  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Plant Category: Annuals and biennials, houseplants, tender perennials
  • Height: 24 inches
  • Spacing: 242 inches
  • Hardiness Zones:  Zones 9 to 11 (30 to 40 degree)
  • Sun Exposure: Sun to partial shade
  • Foliage: Grown for its striking burgundy foliage
  • Water: Water regularly; do not overwater
  • Soil pH Requirements: 5.6 to 7.6 (acidic to neutral pH)
  • Soil Range: Sandy Loam to Clay Loam

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