The Q&A Archives: Copper Plant

Question: I bought a copper plant this summer. It has been on my front porch until now. The lady at the nursery told me to bring it in before cold weather. Can you tell me how to care for it in general. I haven't seen one before and know nothing about them.

Answer: Acalypha is the Copper Leaf plant, which is native to the South Pacific Islands and therefore frost-tender. Keep your plant indoors over the winter months, and begin by taking it in at night now. Over the next week or two you can help acclimate it to growing indoors by leaving it in for longer and longer periods each day, eventually not taking it outdoors at all.

Acalyphas are woody shrubs with some very definite requirements: provide warmth (65F-80F), bright light (but no direct sunlight), keep potting soil moist at all times, and provide humidity. This can be accomplished by misting the leaves daily or by surrounding the pot with damp moss, or setting the pot on a pebble tray filled with water. Pinch back dead leaves and stems to keep the plant compact.

When the weather warms in the spring, take your plant outdoors again. Do this in stages by leaving out in a protected spot for a few hours and taking inside at night. Repeat this process, leaving the plant outdoors for extended lengths of time until it eventually stays out 24 hours a day.

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