One plant that I heard repeatedly requested around the garden center this summer is the Chenille Plant. This lovely plant is named for its beautiful flowers that look like strands of chenille yarn hanging over the side of its pot. I think they look a bit like fuzzy caterpillars, and thatís why kids love this plant, too! The flowers are most often seen in red, but can sometimes be found in white.
The fuzzy catkin flowers can become very long, sometimes as long as 18 inches! To nicely display your Chenille Plant, hanging baskets are best. If a hanging basket doesnít work for your situation, you can try placing the plant on a plant stand so that it has room to gracefully cascade down a bit.
Chenille Plant requires lots of sunshine to fuel those flowers. This would be the plant you give the prime sun-shiny real estate to. The more light you can give this plant, the better, but it will also do okay in partial sun. If your plant isnít flowering for you, the first thing I would check is how much sunlight it gets a day.
Try not to let this plant get too dry. It is always tricky to keep a plant moist without over-watering, but if you pay close attention while you are getting to know the needs of your new plant you will quickly learn how much water it would like. If you let this plant wilt, the flowers will suffer. Donít ever let it get completely dry, or it will die.
Chenille Plant also appreciates plenty of fertilizer to keep it going. Fertilize at every watering while it is actively growing and while flowers are forming. If the plant slows down for the winter, cut back on the fertilizer. The further away you are from the equator, the less light your plant will get indoors in the winter. If you are like me, your best bet is to give your Chenille Plant a summer vacation outdoors to rejuvenate it.
Spider mites are the main pest you might encounter if you grow this plant indoors. If you see leaves turning slightly yellow with a stippling pattern, you may have these invaders. Check also for the tell-tale webs the spider mites spin. Once you see webbing, you need to treat the plant right away in order to save your plant.
It is very easy to propagate Chenille Plant, so when you are giving it a routine trim (which it will probably need fairly often) use the pieces you cut off to start new plants for yourself or friends. Use pieces that have a two leaves on them and a short stem. Stick these cuttings in a 50/50 mix of potting soil and perlite. Keep the cuttings moist and out of direct sun until you have roots on them. When the roots are a few inches long and full you can plant them into their own pots!
Chenille Plant is toxic, which is another great reason to grow your plant in a hanging basket or on a plant stand. The catkins are very tempting for kids to play with and cats to swat at. Handling the plant excessively can cause skin irritation and ingesting it can cause minor stomach upset. Chenille Plant wonít seriously hurt anyone, but it really is more fun to look at than eat.