Red flag bush is native to West Africa, where it can grow to 30' tall; in cultivation it usually grows no more than 10'.
It is commonly called Ashanti blood or red flag shrub. These names refer to the blood red color of the velvety flowers (the colorful parts are actually bracts, or modified leaves). The shrub has an open, sprawling habit and requires pruning to maintain it as a low, spreading shrub. Alternatively, it can be allowed to grow and given support, such as a trellis or an adjacent tree.
Because of the red bracts, mussaenda has been suggested as a year-round landscape substitute for poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherimma), which provides color for only part of the year.
Mussaenda require full sun and a moist but well-drained soil. During cool winter weather it is not necessary to water as often, but during hot or dry spells the plants require regular irrigation. Soil should be enriched with organic matter such as well-rotted compost, sphagnum peat, or coir.
To increase flower production, a slow-release fertilizer can be applied every 3-4 months, beginning 2 month after planting. Mussaenda is an acid-loving species so fertilize accordingly.
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