These plants are grown for their colorful foliage, especially the purple-red color that brings the name blood leaf. Originally from tropical South America, blood leaves are very easy to grow. They're from the amaranth family.
Description of blood leaf: Although in the tropics they can reach 5 to 6 feet, summer planting here tops out at 1 foot, usually less. The leaves are round, somewhat puckered, and colored red -- except for yellowish midribs and veins. There are variants with green leaves, yellow veining, and bright red stalks and veins. Their white or yellow flowers are tiny and insignificant.
: Blood leaf tolerates no frost, so plant outside after all danger has passed and the soil is warm. They thrive in any well-drained, moist soil. Full sun is most desirable to develop the strongest foliage color, but they will grow in partial shade or shade. Pinch out the tips of shoots to promote bushiness. Space 6 to 9 inches apart. They can be sheared periodically for a neater appearance.
: By cuttings. Keep them misted during rooting to prevent wilting. Take cuttings 4 to 6 weeks in advance for husky plants to be set out after frost.
: They're favorites for edging beds, borders, and for formal plantings. Blood leaf is also good in containers, especially mixed with other flowering plants. Given a sunny window sill, they are nice indoor plants, especially if they are trimmed.
Blood leaf related species: Iresine lindenii has narrow, sharp-pointed leaves of deep red. Another variant, I. l formosa, has green leaves with yellow veining. The leaf stalks and stems of both are red.
Blood leaf related varieties: Blazin Rose and Bloodleaf are two good reds with large leaves.
Scientific name of blood leaf: Iresine herbstii