The Q&A Archives: Identify This Plant

Question: Just purchased at THD#6830 in Bellmead TX a plant mislabeled, no one can tell ne what it is -- woody stems, leaves shaped like a strawberry plant's and red, fuzzy, cattail shaped

Answer: Your plant is Beyond Paradise Copper Plant. This picturesque plant, which reaches 36 inches tall, is one of several new and unusual plants coming from Euro American Propagators. Another one is Bourbon Street, a compact plant reaching only 24 inches tall with dark green leaves edged in a fiery scarlet-orange. Yet another is the exotic-looking Ceylon, which reaches 14 to 26 inches tall, has an upright habit and features purple leaves edged in hot pink.

Copper plants originated in the Pacific Islands. They are in the Euphorbia family, making them related to the poinsettia, croton and chenille plants. In the South Pacific, they reach 10 to 15 feet tall.

The copper plants require well-drained soil. If you suspect poor drainage, incorporate several inches of organic matter while preparing the bed. These plants grow quite large, so space them adequately. At 18 inches apart, they will quickly form a hedge-like look. You may want to space them 24 to 36 inches apart, depending on your goal.

Although they will be impressive with just a few hours of sun, planting them in full sun will yield even more spectacular color. The copper plant responds well to a midsummer pinching or pruning to encourage lateral branching and a bushier appearance. To grow them as tall as possible, side-dress monthly with light applications of a slow-release, balanced fertilizer.

Copper plants like Beyond Paradise are great when grouped in clusters among evergreen shrubs. Their bold copper colors make a striking contrast to the dark green of the shrubs.

Copper plants are perennial shrubs in zones 9 to 11, but the rest of us will treat them as we do coleuses. But even if you buy it every year, this beautiful annual is worth every penny you will spend on it.

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