The bloodleaf is a perennial plant that is native to South America. It is distinguished by its burgundy-colored leaves, from which it derives its name. The plant is a member of the amaranth family and is also known by its scientific name, iresine. It's considered easy to grow and is especially suited as an indoor plant.
Bloodleaf should ideally be planted in a bed that receives a daily minimum of six hours of direct sun. When planting outdoors, marshy soil should be avoided, because the bloodleaf plant only thrives in well-drained soil. For indoor growing, clay pots are better for the bloodleaf than plastic. Clay pots filled with a sand-based loam should help promote good drainage. Individuals can create their own loam by mixing nutrient rich soil with equal amounts of compost and sand.
Regular watering is essential for growing a healthy plant. They should never be allowed to become entirely dry. As soon as the soil feels dry to the touch at the base of the plant, it is generally time to water. Frequent misting is also considered a good idea, because these plants thrive in a humid environment. During periods of excessive heat or drought, it may be necessary to water the bloodleaf more often.
Most gardeners recommend fertilizing bloodleaf at the beginning of its growing season, which is typically early spring. A fertilizer that can be dissolved in water is preferable to powder forms. A good type of fertilizer would ideally contain nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Indoor plants may need to be fertilized monthly, because their needs are greater than those being grown outdoors.
Pests that are generally a problem for bloodleaf include aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites. They are fairly easy to deal with if they are detected early, so the plants should be checked often for infestation. If the leaves begin to turn brown or yellow, it may indicate the presence of mildew or fungus. Any discolored leaves should be trimmed to ensure that disease does not spread throughout the entire plant.
Outdoors, the bloodleaf plant is typically used as a border plant. Their brilliant burgundy coloring makes them ideal for edging. Since they're non-flowering and have such vibrant leaves, they are often used in pots mixed with flowering plants. Though the plant can reach heights of 6 feet (1.8 m) in its native habitat, the typical height of a North American plant is about 1 foot (0.3 m).