A Devilish Guide to Iresine herbstii Care (Bloodleaf Plant)

As you’d expect for a Brazilian native, this plant is as tropical and colorful as they come.

In warmer climates, it’s often grown as a bushy plant outdoors, but in cooler areas, it’s quickly establishing itself as a popular houseplant and terrarium plant.

With rich eggplant-colored leaves and neon pink veining, it’s sure to stand out from the crowd.

While I wouldn’t say it looks particularly meaty, it has two rather off-putting common names: the chicken gizzard plant and the beefsteak plant.

Can’t say I’m a fan; I’ll stick to Bloodleaf.

But, whatever you call it, this plant will brighten up any space, and in this guide, I’ll teach you how to care for it, so save your blood, sweat, and tears for another plant.

Let’s go.

Iresine herbstii (bloodleaf plant)

Where to Buy the Bloodleaf Plant

See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links). 

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Iresine herbstii Care Tips

Plant TypeFoliage
LightingBright, indirect light
Temperature50-80°F (10-27°C)
WateringRegular, even moisture
HumidityMedium-high humidity (50-80%)
Growth2-10 inches


Compared to other houseplants, the Bloodleaf Plant is laughably hardy in the light department.

They’ll do okay in more shaded areas and will even tolerate some direct sunlight.

bloodleaf plant and lightmeter
My plant enjoying some gentle evening sunlight.

That said, it wouldn’t enjoy being sat at either end of the extremes. Too little light will result in a leggier plant, and too much direct light could burn the foliage.

For best results, bright, indirect light is still the gold standard here, and it’ll appreciate as much as you can give it.

To give you some context, I have mine a few feet away from a South-facing windowsill, and it’s been very happy here so far.

How to Water

Iresine herbstii is a tropical plant that loves moisture but is also highly susceptible to root rot.

This makes it extremely important that you have excellent drainage so that any excess water can escape.

If you’re keeping yours as a houseplant, make sure it’s in a pot with drainage holes.

bloodleaf plant in pot with drainage holes
I kept my Bloodleaf Plant in a plastic pot with holes inside a pretty ceramic pot – it’s my top trick for keeping things pretty and functional.

Then just water whenever the topsoil is feeling a little dry to the touch and tip away any water that drips into the drainage tray or outer pot. 

watering bloodleaf plant
Here’s that juicy watering shot you’re all here for.

In a terrarium, make sure you have a drainage layer and go easy on the water to start off – it’s always easy to add more but very challenging to remove.

Soil & Substrate

Your Bloodleaf Plant will appreciate a light, tropical substrate mix.

Coco coir is the ultimate moisture-retentive base, and chunky additives like orchid bark, charcoal, and lava rock will help with drainage.

holding bloodleaf plant above a terrarium
These chunky substrate elements will help with root aeration, too – which is very important for this delicate root structure. 

It’s a relatively nutrient-hungry species too.

When putting this plant in a terrarium, I’d recommend adding a decent helping of earthworm castings to the substrate.

If you’re keeping it in a pot, you can just use a well-balanced fertilizer once a month.

Humidity & Temperature Requirements

Temperature is perhaps the area in which this plant is the most forgiving.

While it will enjoy temps on the warmer side, it can grow in USDA hardiness zones 10-12. So, even if your home is as cold as 50°F, your plant will almost certainly be just fine.

(Though, I can’t say that would be particularly pleasant for you). 🥶

bloodleaf plant and temperature and humidity guage
My Bloodleaf Plant has been super happy in temperatures around 70°F.

Maintaining a higher humidity level, however, is far more crucial to keeping this plant happy.

50% humidity would be the lowest I’d advise going. If that’s a little tricky to do, you can try grouping plants or, my favorite solution, pop them in a closed terrarium.

Its love of humidity makes it a fantastic choice for tropical terrariums, and the color looks absolutely incredible in contrast to green plants.

bloodleaf plant in terrarium
Honestly, I prefer my Bloodleaf Plant in a terrarium rather than in a pot. It looks stunning.


In my experience, the lovely Bloodleaf Plant is a quick grower.

After planting it in my terrarium, it didn’t take long for new foliage to start growing and beautifully filling out the space.

bloodleaf plant and isopod
My Shiro Utsuri Isopod enjoyed climbing and exploring my Bloodleaf Plant. 🥹

While the plant itself will get taller and bushier as it grows, it’s a low-growing shrub – so the leaf size won’t get too much larger.

All this to say that it’s very easy to keep this plant in check if it gets too big for your liking. Just grab your scissors and give it a haircut.

As a bonus, you can propagate those cuttings to give to a friend…

How to Propagate Bloodleaf Plants

Iresine herbstii can be easily propagated via stem cuttings, but it’s also a great candidate for dividing, just like you would with a fern. 

dividing bloodleaf plant
My plant had two stems, so I teased them (and their respective roots) apart to create two plants.

In my experience, dividing this plant works better if you let the soil dry out a little first.

It wasn’t difficult at all, but if you need to, feel free to use scissors to snip through any tough material.

And as I said, if you prefer, you can always just take stem cuttings.

Take a longer section of the plant with a good few leaves attached, snip below the node, and remove the lower leaves, leaving the top ones.

Then, either put that in a glass of water or dip it in rooting hormone and plant it immediately in the soil.

I prefer water propagation, but I’ve heard of people having success planting it straight up.

Iresine Varieties & Similar Plants

Iresine herbstii ’Funny Gold’ and Iresine herbstii ’Blazin Lime’ are the only other notable varieties of this plant that I could find.

And with pink stems, green leaves, and yellow venation, they’re far less exciting than the purple powerhouse we know and love (in my humble opinion).

Stepping away from the genus, the likes of Fittonia would be your best bet if you’re looking for similar plants.

Despite not being related, you really can’t deny the similarities.

fittonia close up
The Fittonia genus flaunts brightly colored leaves and contrasting venation too.