Vain Chenille Plant

Photo credit: Google commons

Photo credit: Google commons

Unusual flowers of this Hispanic beauty are a real feast for the eyes, however, this lady will make you work hard… Philippines Medusa, red hot cat’s tail and fox tail are folksy name for the plant Chenille that is also recognizable under the botanical name Acalzpha hispida.

This is primarily room or patio plant (looks formidable in large pots), because of its specific needs (the minimum temperature it can stand is 13-15 degrees Celsius) it must be cultivated and kept indoors. It can be taken out only when night temperatures stabilize, but if the night temperature drops suddenly, plant will discard its leaves.

The best period for the move is second half of May or early June. Chenille plant should gradually be prepared for the outside and its optimal place is sunny or half-shadow position. When grown in a flower pots, it usually grows to a maximum of 80 cm and then it is a perennial plant, but if it is planted in the garden (can grow up to three meters), it will not survive frost.

Therefore many grow it as an annual ornamental shrub in the garden. It looks very attractive during the whole summer, because of male flowers that reminiscent of cat tails on its branches.


These are long, monochrome, bushy blossom falling from a branch and they can be in red and dark magenta color.

Chenille plant is pruned only in the early stages of growth, the best time is immediately after planting. If you do it later when plant develops and grows leaves, it may cause lack of blooms.
Because it comes from the tropical and subtropical parts of South America, it needs to be planted in peat substrate, enriched with a little clay and perlite.

Chenille plant loves moisture, so from April to September or October it should be watered regularly (less in winter). During the hottest days sprinkling with water will suit it, preferably distilled water or rainwater, but do this only in the times of day when the sun is not strong.

The best way is to refresh the plant in the morning, so leaves can dry slowly. Propagation is done with young cuttings: it is enough to cut offshoot of about 30 cm, put it in the substrate to revive and keep the optimal temperature of 20 to 22 degrees Celsius.

The process can be accelerated by using hormones for reviving woody cuttings or willow syrup – water in which chopped sticks of willow remained for a while. It is enough to place the cuttings in the liquid and after a few days you will see the first root veins.