Colorful Shrubs, Hedges, and Screening Plants

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Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Inferno’

"Copperleaf Plant

‘Inferno’ is a medium to large shrub averaging 6'-8' in height and width. It is moderately fast-growing, averaging 2-3 feet a year.
The foliage is ‘Inferno’s’ claim to beauty. The leaf averages 2 1/2" long and 1 1/2" wide. Leaves open green and change to orange and salmon to copper and end up deep maroon. The foliage goes through color changes with each new flush of growth.  The blooms are insignificant on ‘Inferno’.
‘Inferno’ should last at least 25-30 years in the landscape. Space ‘Inferno’ 3'-4'  apart for hedge use.
‘Inferno’ is a colorful plant that adds reds, oranges, and maroons to the landscape. The small leaf is amenable to hedge clippers and the foliage will retain color even with shearing. ‘Inferno’ is a good answer for condominiums looking for permanent color in the landscape. ‘Inferno’ takes shearing well and is the perfect answer to flowering hedges that never bloom because the flower buds are always cut off.
This shrub likes full sun to part shade and needs protection from cold winds. It can defoliate in cold winters but grows right back again. ‘Inferno’ is a dense grower in sun and more open growing in light shade.
The wood is brittle so the plant needs some protection from wind.
‘Inferno’ is most colorful when new growth occurs. It produces the most color during the summer wet season.
This brightly colored plant needs quiet green to serve as a background for its brilliance. A tall screen of podocarpus, or areca palms would serve nicely as a background.
Plant ‘Inferno’ ¼ inch above grade to allow for settling. Fertilize in March, June and October with palm fertilizer to encourage more flushes of colorful leaves.
‘Inferno’ is best pruned in June or July to avoid sun-scald if used as a specimen. Hedges can be pruned as needed.
This plant likes irrigation and appreciates water twice a week on established plants. Irrigation may not be necessary during the wet season.
An organic well-drained soil is best for this Acalypha.
‘Inferno’ has low salt tolerance, while cold winter breezes and hurricane winds can damage this shrub. Brittle wood and minimal cold tolerance can defoliate or break the shrub. It recovers quickly from the roots.
The Acalypha is hardy in zone 10-11.
Scale and mealybugs can be an occasional problem on this plant. Cuttings and air-layering are the main means of propagation.
One major difference between a landscape and a garden is that a landscape is designed to stay much the same through its existence, whereas a garden changes with the seasons and evolves over the years. This plant works into both situations. My Acalypha ‘Inferno’ seems to be perpetually on fire with color making it a great prospect for my color garden. In one planting I’ve combined it strikingly with the yellow of Cordia lutea and in another situation I used it to divide two properties. In both cases I let them grow to maturity without formal trimming. I was later surprised to see them growing as a formal hedge, they where maintained at about eight feet in height and trimmed to about three feet wide and realized this would make handsome addition to more formal landscapes too." - J.Durko

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