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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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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.