What is a Waffle Plant?

Misty Amber Brighton

A waffle plant, also known as Hemigraphis exotica, is a type of ground cover that grows in mostly warm climates. It has long, thin leaves that are usually purple or very dark red in color. It may be grown as a houseplant, in flowerbeds, hanging baskets, or in containers.

A waffle plant may grow in any place that features a tropical climate.
A waffle plant may grow in any place that features a tropical climate.

This plant is thought to have originated in Asia. It may be grown in many parts of the world that have a tropical climate. The waffle plant generally prefers temperatures that are at least 60°F (15.55°C). When used as a houseplant, it should not be placed in drafty locations.

It is a fairly short specimen, growing anywhere from six to 12 inches (15.24 to 30.48 cm) in height. It will normally spread to between 12 and 18 inches (15.24 to 45.72 cm) wide. The stems of a waffle plant are usually thick and purple or dark green in color.

The leaves of this spreading plant may be up to 3 and 1/2 inches (8.89 cm) long. They are usually round with a somewhat bubbly appearance to the surface. In spring, they are normally green with white or gray spots. They may begin to turn dark purple or red in late spring or early summer, and generally stay this color until fall.

The waffle plant may produce a white or cream-colored flower in early to mid-summer. These can appear on spikes that shoot up within the leafy foliage. They are usually very tiny blooms with five petals that are around 0.39 inches (1 cm) in diameter.

These plants prefer full sunlight but might also be grown in partial shade. They need plenty of water in order to survive, so the soil should be constantly moist. Since this plant tolerates high amounts of water, it can often be planted in swampy areas, or in locations where there might be standing water after a heavy rain.

The roots of Hemigraphis exotica can spread rapidly and can overtake small vegetation. For this reason, gardeners may want to place a border or edging around the area they would like to restrict this plant to. If it is grown in a container or hanging basket, it might need to be transplanted into a larger pot after the first year.

A waffle plant typically needs very little maintenance in order to thrive. The dark leaves of this ground cover often compliment light-colored flowers in a flowerbed or rock garden. It can be a good choice for beginning or intermediate gardeners.

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