Copperleaf Tree (Shrub) Guide: Copperleaf Plant Care, Growing Zones

Person with shears looks at a copperleaf tree (copperleaf plant) after learning how to identify copperleaf shrubs as well as how to care for copper leaf plants, prevent copperleaf disease, and the correct copperleaf plant growing zones.

The Copperleaf Tree (also known as the copperleaf shrub) is a very beautiful plant and one of the types of evergreen trees that have been planted for a very long time in Florida.

Its genus includes more than 400 species of low maintenance evergreen shrubs, and weedy herbs that grow mostly in the tropical Americas and the Southern Pacific.

If you’re considering planting some of the types of Copperleaf Tree,7 this complete guide provides everything you need to know about how to identify copperleaf shrubs, and how to care for them and the growing zones where they’ll thrive.

Copperleaf, Fire Bush, Jacob’s Coat, Copper Plant

(Acalypha wilkesiana)

Copperleaf Tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Genus: Acalypha
  • Leaf: Alternate leaf arrangement that grows 3 to 6 inches in width and length. It is heart-shaped with serrated margins with an assembly of colors that vary between cultivars
  • Species: Wilkesiana
  • Bark: Light gray, though it is thin and smooth with slight horizontal etchings
  • Seed: Have a raindrop shape, with about 0.2 cm in diameter and a wrinkled appearance
  • Blossoms: Summer
  • Fruit: Has a capsule type of fruit with hard seeds
  • Native habitat: South pacific islands
  • Height: 6 to 10 feet tall
  • Canopy: Dense oval shaped leaves, fringed with silky brown hairs
  • Type: Deciduous
  • Native growing zone: Pacific Island, Tropical Americas

Copper Plants (Jacob’s Coat Plant or Acalypha wilkesiana)

The Copper Plant is also known as Jacob’s Coat plant or Acalypha wilkesiana. If you are looking to add any more plants in your backyard, consider going for a Copperleaf Plant.

This plant takes very few months for it to grow and the Copper Leaf plant benefits are many.

For example, treating hypertension, diarrhea, and fungal skin diseases, also diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders. Caring for this kind of plant is very easy.1

All you need to do is to ensure that your soil is fertile, water the plant and supplement nutrients like compost and manure into the soil to ensure its smooth growth, and most importantly expose it to sunlight. The more this plant is exposed to the Sun, the brighter the color of the leaves will be.5

Angled shot of Copperleaf plant situated on dirt showing leaves in hues of red and orange.

(Image by: Daderot13)

For efficient growth of the Copperleaf Plant, you need to know how to prune Copper Leaf Plant and how to propagate Copper Leaf Plant. Pruning the Copperleaf Plant ensures the growth of healthy leaves and branches.8

There are those who trim this plant after 6 months, others wait until they get leggy, while others cut them in summer or spring because this is the time that it rapidly grows.

Copperleaf Plant Varieties

Copperleaf plants are of many varieties with different foliage. There are Red Copper Leaf Plant and White Copperleaf Plant; there are those that are cream, purple, pink, or even green.

Their foliage has very beautiful colors that outstand each other.

For example the white is creamy and mixed with green, the pink has green and white leaves that have a beautiful mottled pink, and the red one is a mix of bright pink accents with coppery red.

‘Can ‘can’ is another variety of Copperleaf Plant that is very popular, it has a dark pink and creamy white color. The edges of the leaves are often saw-toothed and can grow up to 13 cm long.

It is also important to take note that this plant likes partial shade to full sunlight, but the white varieties have an exception, they do not need to be exposed to full sunlight, and they will do best under partial sun.

Copper Bush Plant

The Copper Bush plant is an evergreen plant that has been cultivated in Florida for a very long time.

The stunning foliage makes them very attractive to many gardeners and landscapers, but this plant is native to the Pacific.

The Copper Leaf Tree shouldn’t be confused with the plant called the Dwarf Bush-Honeysuckle, discovered by a French botanist named Diereville in Canada, or the Copper Bush honeysuckle.2

How To Identify Copperleaf Plant Tree

Identifying Copperleaf Plant trees from other types of trees is very easy. The Copperleaf Plant is a relative of the Chenille plant.9 However, there are so many different varieties of foliage that are of different colors, for example green, pink, and white.

This plant is mostly grown outside in order to get enough sunlight; the more it is exposed to the sun the more bright the leaves’ colors are going to be.

The flowers of this plant attract less attention because of their spiky and pale nature.

Some may wonder, “Do trees have genders?” In the case of the Copperleaf plant tree, “Absolutely.”

Copperleaf Tree identification chart showing full grown Copperleaf Tree with average height range, Copperleaf Tree leaves, Copperleaf Tree flowers, Copperleaf Tree fruits, and Copperleaf Tree bark images along with their respective short descriptions.

The male flowers are long and floppy while the female flowers are very small to the extent that you will not be able to see them if you are not keen enough. Their genders are different but they grow on the same plant in different parts of the Copperleaf Tree.

This plant spreads quickly as long as it has been planted on fertile and organic soil, a good amount of compost manure is applied, and lastly, enough watering periods. These will be enough for Copperleaf Plant care.

Furthermore, there are companion plants for growing Copperleaf Plant Tree. They include tropical plants like Crossandra, Heliconia, and the Orange Bird of Paradise.

Pairing Copperleaf Trees with other tropical plants creates a beautiful garden design.

Copperleaf Plant Tree Growing Zone

Copperleaf Trees naturally occur in Vanuatu, an island situated in the Pacific. The most suitable growing zones for Copperleaf Plant Tree (where to grow) are Zones 10 to 12 because the trees should be protected from frost and drought preventing damage to the Copperleaf Trees.

Additionally, you should note that Copperleaf plants should be planted in well-drained and fertile soil. They also need a temperature of approximately 10 degrees Celsius.

Traditionally, many people used to plant trees outside the house, but with the changing trends, you can now plant greeneries in the house by embracing container plants. However, if you go for the latter option, you must maintain the plants in a humid, bright, and warm environment.

Copperleaf plants are mainly grown in Tropical America and Southern Florida. The plant which can also be grown in other areas provides color to the surroundings for the largest part of the year, therefore known as an annual plant.

Its flowers are replaced by foliage beginning from late summer to when the frost season arrives.

Copperleaf Plant Tree Growth Rate (Copperleaf Tree)

Acalypha wilkesiana is one plant that does not grow too tall nor too short, it is of medium growth rate.

Within a couple of years, the tree grows between 5 to 7 feet in height, while others might be a little bit shorter up to 3 to 4 feet in height.

Graphics showing the Copperleaf Tree growth rate and stages showing Copperleaf Tree age and height along with Copperleaf Tree stages which include Copperleaf Tree seedling stage, Copperleaf Tree young sapling stage, Copperleaf Tree adolescent stage, Copperleaf Tree maturing stage, and Copperleaf Tree mature stage.

They also produce small flowers that measure approximately 10 cm to 20 cm, but the most surprising fact is that they do not have petals, but have male and female catkins that allow them to reproduce.

How long it takes to grow Copperleaf Plant Tree? Well, this is one of the plants that grow really fast, just give it a few months from the time you have planted them and you shall see the results.

The plant itself has bright leaves that can grow up to 5 inches long.

The growth rate of Copperleaf Trees mainly depends on their location, for there are places that enjoy adequate sunlight while others receive it in insignificant amounts. However, a Copperleaf Tree is likely to survive in any area as long as there are ideal conditions for its growth.

Copperleaf Plant leaves are nevertheless likely to become brighter when exposed to full sunlight.

If you are planning to embrace the plant as an indoor plant, then you should situate it near the window to let it receive maximum sunlight because the tree is not one of the plants that don’t need sun. The temperature of your home should also lie above 15 degrees Celsius for the colors of the foliage to blend well.

Like any other plant, the Copperleaf Plant requires well-drained and fertile soil to grow and develop well. You can also add manure or compost to the soil for greater outcomes.10,11

Most essentially, the Copperleaf Plant requires regular watering and adequate exposure to sunlight.

Copperleaf Plant Tree Leaves

Copperleaf plants have very attractive leaves that come in a combination of different colors such as cream, pink, red, and heart shape.6 The leaves boast an evergreen color, and a rough feel, and are usually serrated at the margins, with an alternative arrangement that has a prickly feel.

The leaves of Copperleaf Plants are broad and large, and fully covered with fine hairs. They can be flat or crinkled with different combinations of colors such as coppery green and mottled appearance.

Copperleaf Tree leaves are usually supported along the stems.

Eye level shot of a Copperleaf plant bush growing in a plant box next to a set of stairs showing green and yellow leaves.

(Image by: Anne and David14)

You can find more than 400 species of Copperleaf Plants, with some dropping their leaves during the dry season because they are drought-deciduous plants. A study conducted in 2005 regarding the leaves of Copperleaf Plants concluded that they are significantly able to treat hypertension, more so by managing potassium metabolism and abnormal sodium that accompany hypertension.3

Another study was conducted in the year 2006 and the leaves were found to have antibacterial and antifungal properties; most countries in Eastern Africa use these leaves for treating skin infections.

Copperleaf Shurb Flower

The Copperleaf Plant is among the plants that are monoecious, meaning they have both female and male flowers on the same plant. The male flowers have long spikes that hang downwards while the female flowers have very short spikes that make it almost hard to be seen because they are hidden among the leaves.

Green, yellow, and red are the different colors that the flower of a Copperleaf Tree has. They mostly bloom during summer time.

The male and female flowers are separate but are of the same plant. However, there are other plants that are dioecious, meaning they have male and female flowers on separate plants.

An example is the Virginia Copperleaf Tree.4

Copperleaf Plant Tree Seeds

When planting Copperleaf Plant trees in a container, make sure that the container has drainage holes that are twice the size of the root balls. When your Copperleaf Plant has outgrown the holes, you will now need to re-pot the plant.

Water the seedlings of the Copperleaf Tree properly in case you want to transplant it. This makes it easy for you to lift the plant.

Dig a hole, place the plant, and surround it with compost manure.

The watering needs for Copperleaf Plant Tree plants are watering several times a week. Regular watering helps the optimal growth of the Copperleaf Tree.

But you should be careful not to overwater it, thus preventing the plant from wilting.

Copperleaf Plant Tree Symbolism

The flower spike of Copperleaf Plant is rust red in color and it also grows to be very long hence the name Copper Leaf.

When it comes to tree symbolism, copper is a sign of water, which is the life of a plant therefore, Copperleaf is a sign of continuity.

This plant has so many uses for example, it is used as a colorful hedge when it is allowed to grow and spread and is also used as a focus point in the garden because of its attractive nature.

Copperleaf Plant Tree Disease Prevention: Common Pests of the Copperleaf Tree

Just like any other plant, there are Copper Leaf plant diseases and common pests of the Copperleaf Plant Tree.

Although these issues are common, there is natural pest control for Copperleaf Tree.


Thrips are bugs that are usually 1 to 2 mm with translucent-yellow or slender black bodies and mostly attack the sap of the Copperleaf Plant. These bugs usually occur in early spring and if they are not controlled, they will persist in other seasons.

Thrips are usually brought by excessive use of fertilizer. All you need to do is to spray the plant with pyrethrin which is an organic pesticide.

Leaf Beetles

Leaf Beetles are types of insects that attack the leaves of the plant and leave a round hole on the surface of the leaf. Many people mistake this insect for a ladybird because of its shape and color.

The insects mostly thrive in summer and spring and since they can fly, it is easy for them to damage the Copperleaf Plant leaves if not controlled early enough. When you start noticing any signs of insects on some parts of a tree, mix four to five tablespoons of dish soap and fill a spray bottle.

Then spray the solution on areas you have seen the Leaf Beetles.

Root Rot

Root Rot occurs both in house and garden plants. It affects the foliage and mainly occurs when there is excess watering.

In case your Copperleaf Plant has been affected by root rot, you have to quickly stop the spread to the neighboring healthy plants by trimming the affected roots.

Eye-level shot of a potted Copperleaf plant atop a window sill showing leaves with hues of orange and red.

(Image by: Daderot15)

However, you can prevent your plant from root rot by giving the plant the right amount of water. You are required to water the plant only when two inches of the topsoil is completely dry.

Brown Spot

The brown spots are caused by bacterial and fungal diseases and occur mostly on the leaves. The brown spots on the leaves of plants mostly thrive when there is too much wetness on the leaves, or underwatering.

Also, lack of humidity can result in the widespread of brown spots.

Because the brown spots attack the leaves of the Copperleaf Plant, the process of photosynthesis is greatly affected. You can do away with this disease by cutting off the affected leaves to prevent it from spreading to the neighboring plants.

And also, avoid overwatering and underwatering the plant.

How To Stop Copperleaf Tree Disease

Trim the affected leaves and roots if you observe the Copperleaf Plant Tree disease or a sign of root rot. To prevent more damage, you are required to spray fungicides.

Lastly, re-pot your Copperleaf Plant in well-draining soil. Your plants will grow well and in good condition if you implement these important steps on how to stop Copperleaf Plant Tree disease.

Copperleaf Tree Facts

Here is a list of some facts about the Copperleaf Plant Tree.

  • Many people mainly harvest Copperleaf Plants for medicinal purposes such as curing diabetes, skin infections, diarrhea, and hypertension.
  • While the male and female flowers are both in the same plant, the female flowers are insignificant and nearly invisible while their male counterparts are easily seen.
  • You can easily notice the interior parts of the combination of the Chenille Plant and the Copperleaf Plant Tree for they bring out the beautiful colors of Copperleaf Plants.
  • According to ASPCA, Copper plants are not toxic to cats and dogs,12 but can affect humans. For example, it can cause skin rash if taken in large quantities.

If you’ve been looking forward to adding some plants or trees to your garden, then Copperleaf Trees and Copperleaf Plants should be on top of the list. Besides their assortment of amazing colors, it is considered to be one of the low maintenance plants.

Some of the aspects that you must consider when planning to embrace Copperleaf Trees, include the best-growing conditions for Copperleaf Plant Tree, planting tips for Copperleaf Plant Tree, and when to plant Copperleaf Plant Tree for the best yield.

Although these plants need regular watering and exposure to sunlight, they can also thrive in dry conditions as long as you keep the soil moist every time.

The Copperleaf tree (Copperleaf plant) makes a beautiful addition to any backyard, and knowing how to identify the copperleaf shrubs that will look best and how to care for them properly is simply a matter of asking a few questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Copperleaf Tree

How Much Sunlight Does Copperleaf Plant Tree Need Each Day?

A Copperleaf Plant Tree requires at least 6-8 hours of sunlight exposure each day.

What Is the Best Distance To Consider How Far Apart To Plant Copperleaf Plant Tree?

You should plant the trees 1.5 or 2 meters apart to avoid them competing for nutrients, and also allow them to have a healthy growth.

Which Steps Are Required For Growing a Copperleaf Plant Tree From a Cutting?

After cutting the shoot of the Copperleaf Plant, you should dip it in hormone rooting powder for a maximum of three minutes, then plant it in a pot with a mixture of coarse sand and peat. Finally, add some compost or manure for nutritional level balance.

Which Conditions Are Required For Growing a Copperleaf Plant Tree From a Seed?

The soil to be used should be well drained, and during dry weather the soil should be watered regularly to keep it moist for better germination rate of the Copperleaf tree seed.

What Conditions Are Required For Growing a Copperleaf Plant Tree From a Seedling?

Copperleaf Trees grow well under full sunlight in locations free from frost. However, due to their drought tolerant nature, it should be watered regularly for efficient growth.

Read More About Copperleaf Tree


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13Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Rosea’ – Mounts Botanical Garden – Palm Beach County, Florida – DSC03743 Photo by Daderot. (2017, March 24) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved July 5, 2023, from <,_Florida_-_DSC03743.jpg>

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