Also known as Acalypha hispida, this tropical plant is native to the Pacific Islands and thrives in warm climates. The fuzzy red flowers resemble chenille yarn, hence the name. Children may think they look like fuzzy caterpillars, and are often attracted to them, but this plant is toxic if ingested; if handled too much, it can irritate the skin. It's red or white flowers can grow up to lengths of 18 inches. The flowers hang down, making this an ideal plant for hanging baskets. A fairly hardy plant, chenille hanging plants are simple to care for with a few basic steps.
Hang your plant where it gets full sun each day. If your plant is inside, hang it near a south-facing window. On sunny days, hang it outside. It's best to hang the plant outside, except during the winter. Some partial shade in the late afternoon is okay, but if the plant is drooping, it may need more sun.
Water daily to keep the soil moist. Do not let the soil dry out or the plant wilt; it may die if it gets completely dry. Mist every day to provide the humidity this plant needs to thrive.
Fertilize once a week during the active growing period, and while the flowers are forming during late spring and through early fall. Use a water-soluble fertilizer and dilute it in half with water. There's no need to fertilize during the winter months when the growth slows down. The flowers appear year round, but grow more during the warmer months.
Trim the plant routinely to keep it shaped up. Cut off as much as 4 to 6 inches at one time. This helps new growth form and keeps it from becoming too long in the hanging basket.
Check for spider mites that can damage the plant. Signs of spider mites are yellowing leaves or webs--usually underneath the leaves. To treat the plant, isolate it from other plants and keep it out of the afternoon sun, where spider mites thrive. Spray the plant all over with a one-to-one mixture of rubbing alcohol and water; be sure to get under the leaves. This will kill the spider mites on contact without damaging the plant. To help prevent spider mites, mist the plant daily.