Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chocolate Plant
Pseuderanthemum alatum

Family: Acanthaceae (ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pseuderanthemum (soo-der-RANTH-ee-mum) (Info)
Species: alatum (a-LAY-tum) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

31 members have or want this plant for trade.

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12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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9 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive saltcedar On Sep 15, 2011, saltcedar from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Bit of a weed but a pretty weed! Not for the anal retentive gardener as it
plants itself where it likes! Needs shade and water in central Texas

Positive RustyB On Aug 30, 2010, RustyB from Mandeville, LA wrote:

Grows readily here. Seems to prefer well drained, partially sunny areas, since that's where they seem to sprout up first. However they will grow in the shade.
I agree that they do/will pop-up just about anywhere. I have even found a couple of them in my front lawn. They are not a problem (yet??)
I use them in a woodland garden setting

Positive MichaelSC On Jul 29, 2010, MichaelSC from Honea Path, SC wrote:

Just got this plant from a nursery in South Georgia who told me it becomes weedy and sprouts up everywhere but I dont think Ill have that problem in 7b/8a Northern South Carolina. Will probably take it into the Greenhouse over winter.

Positive themoonhowl On Jul 22, 2009, themoonhowl from Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

When I purchased this plant I was told it was a "drop dead" tropical and could only be grown here as a house plant or very tender annual.Fortunately no one told the plant that! It is delightful and every year we play "where's the chocolate?" in the garden. It's coloration is a wonderful foil to hostas and ferns and always draws visitors attention. It is easily propagated and easily transplanted.

Positive jtmiller On Jul 28, 2007, jtmiller from Pasadena, TX wrote:

I came across this plant years ago at a friends house in North Houston. I loved the colors because it was unusual so I had to have it. He gave me one and said "trust me, that's all you will need". He wasn't lying. It does reproduce and it has come up in some places I have no clue as to how it could have gotten there. But it's a fun plant and it's easy to control so I do not mind it coming up in various places. I just pull it up and transplant it where I want them. The one I posted a pic of has come up for three years in a row, so winters here in the Houston area do not kill it at the roots. It's an awesome plant to have next to bright colors because of the contrast. Like others have said as well, the more sun it recieves the darker chocolate color it will give off.

Positive rjuddharrison On Jul 13, 2007, rjuddharrison from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant was first introduced to me by a friend when I first got into gardening. Since then, I have enjoyed this plant immensely, without really a having to care for it much. Each year when I bring out plants that were over wintered in the greenhouse I look for my volunteer chocolate plants. I'm never disappointed. Often these are the most requested plants when visitors tour the garden, which I'm too happy to oblige by scouring the garden for the plentious seedlings sure to be found in any of the garden beds.
The leaves will turn a richer and darker chocolate color with more sun exposure, enhancing the silver colored spots in the center of the leaves. I start exposing the leaves in sun in early spring and the plant is quite tolerant of near full sun by summer.

Positive gessiegail On Jun 25, 2007, gessiegail from Taft, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

These wonderful foliage plants grow beautifully either in the ground or in a pot. The seem to flower most of the summer in the prettiest purple. I love them and never think of them as a pest......just beautiful!!

Positive princessnonie On Jul 4, 2006, princessnonie from New Caney, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

In Zone 8b they freeze to the ground but return in spring..
They have not become a problem with seeding, possibly because the only place they have to go is into a St Augustine lawn and they havn't been able to get a foothold there.. They arn't heavy bloomers for me but the foliage is pretty and they do bloom now and then..

Neutral kbarnold On May 29, 2006, kbarnold from Lake Jackson, TX wrote:

Bright shade and this novel little plant reseeds itself every year. While it is not a weed, it pops up in areas I did not especially want to plant the plant. It has pretty litle flowers. I like the silvery shading in the leaves.

Negative aking1a On Sep 13, 2004, aking1a from Baton Rouge, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Chocolate plant is an interesting novelty plant --- reseeds readily - too readily. It also spreads from bits of root left behind or dropped on the way to the compost pile. It is hard to control it's spread.

Positive MotherNature4 On Sep 7, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

The leaves of this plant are chocolate brown with silver splotches along the main veins. Some bright light is necessary to bring out this color, otherwise it tends to be somewhat olive brown. The leaves measure 8" long by 5" wide in this pot grown plant. The winged petioles are of interest.

They reseed readily in central Florida, so some are always coming along. They don't seem to become a pest, though.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (3 reports)
Bartow, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Titusville, Florida
Boinville-en-mantois, Idaho
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (2 reports)
Folsom, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Mandeville, Louisiana (2 reports)
Monroe, Louisiana
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Blanket, Texas
College Station, Texas
Houston, Texas (3 reports)
Humble, Texas
La Porte, Texas
Lake Jackson, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
New Caney, Texas
New Waverly, Texas
Pasadena, Texas

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