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Beefsteak Plant

Iresine herbstii

Beefsteak plant is the perfect choice for gardeners who prefer using vibrant foliage to jazz up the yard instead of plants going in and out of bloom—or not blooming together. This tropical annual adds bold color to garden beds, borders, and containers with its variegated stems and leaves. You can even grow it as a houseplant if you have bright light! Though it may resemble coleus, this easy-care plant is more closely related to amaranth, globe amaranth, and celosia.

Note: You’ll sometimes see this plant called by the alternate (and unflattering) common names of chicken gizzard or bloodleaf because of the color of its variegated foliage.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

1 to 1 1/2 feet

Flower Color:

Propagation

What to Plant With Beefsteak Plant

Use this hue-happy annual in mass plantings or to dress up the far corners of the yard, because it's easy to enjoy the display from a distance. Beefsteak plant mixes well with annual and perennial flowers, adding color to the display as its neighbors go in and out of bloom. For a particularly effective presentation, pair beefsteak plant with flowers that contrast with its burgundy-purple leaves: orange zinnias or marigolds, yellow gerbera daisies or snapdragons, or violet-blue ageratum or petunias.

Beefsteak Plant Care

Site beefsteak plant in any sunny spot in your yard. It grows fastest, fullest, and with the best color in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun per day). It enjoys moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. If your soil has a high sand or clay content, amend liberally with compost, peat moss, or coconut coir before planting.

Beefsteak plant has average moisture needs, so it doesn't tolerate drought well. Its dramatic, tropical-looking leaves wilt when the soil dries out too much. Be sure to plant it in a spot where it gets irrigation—or you'll be able to splash it with water from a hose—during the hottest, driest parts of the summer. Help keep the soil around its roots moist longer by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch. Mulch also makes caring for your garden easier by suppressing weeds.

This no-fuss plant doesn't require any special pruning, but you can pinch it back from time to time to help keep it full and bushy. It produces flowers, though they're not particularly attractive. Many gardeners pinch the buds off as they're developing to help keep the plant in top form.

Propagate more beefsteak plants via cuttings. This plant also self-seeds and has been known to naturalize in areas of the central and eastern United States.

More Varieties of Beefsteak Plant

'Blazin' Lime' beefsteak plant

This fun selection sports chartreuse, lime, and medium-green leaves accented by magenta-red stems. It grows 18 inches tall and wide. Annual

'Blazin' Rose' beefsteak plant

A newer variety, 'Blazin' Rose' boasts burgundy-purple leaves veined and shaded in dark magenta-red. It grows 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide. Annual

'Brilliantissima' beefsteak plant

This classic cultivar bears burgundy-purple leaves and rich pink veins. It grows 12 inches tall and wide. Annual

Plant Beefsteak Plant With:

Dusty miller
Dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything. The silvery-white color is a great foil for any type of garden blossom and the fine-textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast against other plants' green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it's delightfully easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought like a champion.
Verbena
Verbena is a spreading plant ideal for cascading over retaining walls, pots, baskets, and window boxes. As log as the soil is extremely well drained, verbena will reward gardeners with countless clusters of small blooms all season.It's fairly drought-tolerant, making it a great choice for hanging baskets, rock gardens, planting in cracks between stones, and other tight places. One annual verbena, 'Imagination', is a standout for taking the hottest, driest conditions. It will even do well in a clay strawberry pot!
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