All three species described here are native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Beyond their hardiness range, they can be grown indoors; species A. wilkesiana and A. pendula can be used as annuals in cold-winter areas. All bloom intermittently during the warm months and all must have good drainage. Pinch young plants regularly to encourage bushy growth. Feed houseplants monthly in summer; reduce watering in winter.
A. hispida. CHENILLE PLANT. Can grow to a bulky 10 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide. Heavy, rich green leaves to 8 in. wide. Flowers come in hanging, 112-ft.-long clusters that look similar to tassels of crimson chenille. Produces heaviest bloom in early summer, with scattered bloom all year. Thrives in semitropical and tropical climates. This shrub can also be grown in a greenhouse or enclosed patio or, with heavy pruning, indoors.
A. reptans (A. pendula). FIRETAIL. Resembles A. hispida in flower form, but plant is much smaller; shorter tassels droop from trailing branches. Good atop a wall or in a hanging basket. Root hardy in LS, CS; USDA 8-9 with excellent drainage.
A. wilkesiana (A. tricolor). COPPERLEAF. Foliage more colorful than many flowers. Often used as an annual, substituting for flowers from late summer to frost. Leaves to 8 in. long, in color combinations including bronzy green mottled with red and purple; red with crimson and bronze; and green edged with crimson and stippled with orange and red. In a warm, sheltered spot it can grow as a shrub to 6 ft. or taller, nearly as wide. Outdoor potted plants should be kept slightly dry through winter.
Selections worth trying include the following.
'Bronze Pink'. Vivid coral-pink foliage randomly blotched with bronze appears lit from within.
'Ceylon Lime'. Leaves have blotches of cream, lime, and dark green, yet typically glossy.
'Cypress Elf'. To about 3 ft. tall and wide, with threadlike leaves in green and shades of red and gold. Sold under various names, including A. 'Mardi Gras' and A. godseffiana.
'Heterophylla'. Reaches just 1122 ft. high and wide. Narrow, wavy-edged, weeping leaves to 2 in. long are reddish brown with coral margins.
'Macafeeana'. Vigorous plant grows 34 ft. high and almost as wide in a single season; tops out at 1215 ft. in frost-free areas. Giant, (to 1-ft.-long) heart-shaped leaves in red and bronze tones.
'Marginata'. Reaching 36 ft. tall and wide, this is the most familiar form with bronze leaves edged in pink.
'Musaica'. Distinguished by large leaves blotched in bright pink, coral, and bronze.
'Obovata'. To 5 ft. tall and about as wide. Oval, 4- to 6-in.-long, slightly weeping leaves are chocolate-brown with hot pink edges.
'Sizzle Scissors'. Growing upright to 2 ft. tall and wide with narrow bronze leaves with ruffled pink edges.