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Blazin Rose, Bloodleaf give gardens a fiery red
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The Iresine varieties Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf got a lot of attention at the Gulf Coast Garden and Patio Show and look to be among the hottest plants for 2006. If you missed them in Hattiesburg, you will be able to see them at the 9th Jackson Garden and Patio Show.
You might be muttering to yourself, “Oh chicken gizzards! What in the world is an Iresine?” I say that tongue-in-cheek because the Iresine is related to the old-fashioned plant our ancestors called chicken gizzards or beefsteak plant.
These new plants are a far cry from the chicken gizzards that our ancestors grew, and offer the ability to dazzle in the tropical-looking landscape or a contemporary garden. Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf both offer incredible color for today's garden.
Iresine is in the Amaranthaceae family meaning it is related to the Joseph's Coat, Gomphrena and Celosia. The Iresine is native to tropical areas of Brazil and Ecuador and represents another great choice in colorful foliage for the landscape.
Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf Iresine have much larger leaves than the old chicken gizzards and at 18 to 30 inches tall and as wide, they reach as large as a coleus. I suspect they will grow slightly more as their tropical nature is to reach close to 6 feet tall.
Their ideal location is in sun until around mid-morning and then shade or filtered light. They will look at home planted among bananas, gingers, elephant ears and perhaps hostas. As a ray of sun penetrates tall trees and strikes these plants, they will appear to glow with electricity.
Plant in fertile, well-drained soil. If your soil is tight, heavy or compacted clay, either work in 3 to 4 inches of organic matter or bring in a prepared landscape planting mix and plant on raised beds. Feed them monthly with light applications of a balanced fertilizer.
If you like these plants, you also may want to give Purple Lady a try. This low-growing groundcover Iresine was introduced a couple of years ago by Pan American seed and is a great plant. It resembles the old-fashioned chicken gizzards and can spread to 4 feet.
Placed in the garden, 6- to 8-inch plants spread up to 4 feet for a great groundcover. Blazin Rose, Bloodleaf and Purple Lady also make great container plants. Purple Lady will gently cascade over the rim.
Look for them at your local garden center or you can find them at the 9th Jackson Garden and Patio Show at the A & I Buildings on the state fairgrounds March 10-12 and in Southaven at the Home Garden and Patio Show March 17-19 at the Arena on Hwy 51.
Buy them when you see them because they won't last long. After all, I am shopping, too!