Megaskepasma erythrochlamys [me-gas-kee-PAS-muh, er-ith-roh-KLAM-is] known by the common name Brazilian red cloak is an interesting shrub.
It’s the only species in the megaskepasma genus in the family Acanthaceae along with:
- Aphelandra (Zebra plant)
- Strobilanthes (Persian Shield)
- Odontonema Strictum (Firespike)
The tropical Brazilian red cloak plant is native to Venezuela and other parts of South America where it produces colorful inflorescences during the winter.
Instead of the tongue-twister binomial name, most people call it the Brazilian red cloak due to its red bracts concealing delicate white flowers.
Brazilian Red Cloak Care
Size and Growth
Brazilian red cloak is an evergreen shrub with woody growth.
It typically reaches about 6′ to 8′ feet tall while it can reach 15′ feet in its native habitat.
The spread is often equal to the height.
The stems produce broad, dark green leaves measuring up to 12″ inches long with pink midribs.
It’s an evergreen plant, so the leaves remain all year.
Flowering and Fragrance
The plant blooms in the fall or early winter.
It features showy red bracts hiding small white flowers.
While it mostly blooms in the fall or winter, it may also occasionally bloom throughout the year when grown in ideal conditions.
Light and Temperature
Grow in full sun to partial shade with protection from the hot direct afternoon sunlight.
It thrives in warmer regions and is winter hardy to USDA zones 10 to 11.
It won’t last outdoors in freezing temperatures, but it can tolerate a light frost.
For added protection and to help the soil retain more moisture over winter, add mulch over the soil around the plant.
Watering and Feeding
This tropical plant requires moist soil. Don’t allow it to dry out between each watering completely.
At the start of the year, add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil.
Use a liquid fertilizer with each watering during the warmer months.
Stop adding fertilizer in the fall when the flowers appear.
Soil and Transplanting
Plant in the ground or in a large pot with medium drainage as the plant requires constant moisture.
If the soil drains too quickly, adding humus-rich compost or peat moss to the top 6″ to 10″ inches of soil helps retain more moisture.
Transplant potted plants every two to three years to refresh the soil.
Trim the plant back after the bloom to promote bushiness and retain its shape.
How to Propagate Megaskepasma Erythrochlamys
Propagate Brazilian red cloak with stem cuttings or seeds.
- To propagate from seed, bag the seed-heads.
- Look for flowers appearing ready to drop.
- Trim several clusters from the plant and place them in a paper bag.
- Keep the bag in a dry spot and check periodically to see if the seeds have ripened.
- Pour the contents onto a flat, dry surface and sort the seeds from the debris.
- Store the seeds in an envelope and sow after the last frost.
- Sow directly in the ground or individual pots using soil with good water retention.
Keep the soil moist, and the seedlings should appear in several weeks.
Avoid transplanting until the following spring.
To propagate from cuttings.
- Trim one or more branches in the spring before the flowers appear.
- The cuttings should be at least 6″ inches long and contain several sets of leaves.
- Trim the bottom sets of leaves, keeping at least one set toward the top.
- Dip the tips of the cut ends in rooting hormone and plant in individual pots.
- Grow behind glass, in a house, greenhouse, or conservatory.
- After about six to eight weeks, the cuttings should take root.
- Wait about three months for the young plants to grow sturdy before transplanting to permanent homes in large pots or in the ground.
Megaskepasma Erythrochlamys Pest or Disease Problems
Spider mites, whiteflies, and other common pests may attack the plant, especially in dry environments.
Keep the soil moist and spritz the plant occasionally to protect against infestations.
If pests appear, try washing them away.
Take potted plants outdoors and spray with a garden hose.
Severe infestations may require commercial insecticide.
Snails are another potential threat.
Dead leaves, bracts, and flowers create a lot of litter around the plant, providing cover for groups of snails to hide and multiply.
Place pet-safe snail baits (Diatomaceous earth available at Amazon) around the base of the plant before the winter to keep the snails away.
Along with pests, the plant may occasionally suffer from root rot, which is more common for potted plants.
To reduce the risk of fungal growth, replace the soil when transplanting every two to three years.
The Brazilian red cloak isn’t considered invasive or particularly toxic.
However, it may cause mild irritation if ingested.
Suggested Brazilian Red Cloak Uses
The large shrub needs room to spread, making it a good choice for adding depth and color.
The showy red bracts provide the perfect backdrop for the white flowers that bring a tropical feel to any area.
With regular pruning, it’s a manageable houseplant.
Grow in a large pot on a covered porch or other indoor space with an open layout.