Known affectionately by his wife as “The Captain,” one of ArtisTree’s community residents loves to plant unusual specimens in his garden. Last week he told us his next acquisition – when the weather gets warmer – would be Acalypha hispida, also known as a chenille plant.

The Captain has good taste. “Chenille” is the French word for caterpillar, which the plant’s fuzzy red inflorescences closely resemble. Up to 15 inches, they dangle in multitudes and don’t even look real until the breeze picks them up and you see they’re attached to branches.

Chenille plants are fast growing and require good air circulation to keep their “dreadlocks” from mildewing. You’ll also want to plant them in a place shielded by north and northwest winds since they’re sensitive to cold. You’d think a plant that looks this magnificent would require a lot of upkeep, but all it asks is that you prune it occasionally. It’s moderately drought-resistant, too.

The Captain told us he was going to find some six-footers to use as a screen by his garden. The Captain’s wife just wants to experiment with one or two and use them as an accent. Somehow we think The Captain’s going to get his wish.
Chenille Plants

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