Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Care for Alternanthera

By Jason M. Bruner ; Updated September 21, 2017
Alternanthera is grown because of its beautiful foliage.

Alternanthera is highly praised for its colorful leaves and design. Known to gardeners as “Joseph’s coat,” the Alternanthera is a genus of around 80 different herbaceous plants in the amaranth family. Most commonly used as a ground cover, Alternanthera can be grown year-round if you live in planting zones 10 and 11 (very warm climates); however, in other areas Alternanthera is grown as an annual.

Disturb the ground by digging, loosening and breaking apart any clumps. Use a spade shovel or a power tiller.

Apply compost to the planting area and mix in with the dirt using your shovel. Spray the mixture with just enough water to moisten the area.

Cover the planting are with black plastic sheeting and allow it to set for a day, then remove for planting. The heat attracted to the black plastic sheeting will "cook" the compost, allowing it to release nutrients into the ground that are beneficial for the plant.

Plant the Alternanthera during late spring, in an area that receives full sun for most of the day. The area should not pool water, but have well-drained soil.

Fertilize the plant once per month with an all-in-one fertilizer to promote best growth. Apply the fertilizer throughout the growing season until the first frost of winter, according to the package instructions.

Prune the Alternanthera plant using sharp pruning shears as needed, to do away with any dead or dying foliage or to just shape the plant.

Remove the plants from the ground after the first frost of winter and discard them into a compost bin for next year. The Alternanthera cannot survive winter conditions, and new plants will need to be planted the next year.


Things You Will Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Power tiller (optional)
  • Compost
  • Black plastic sheeting
  • Alternanthera plant
  • Water
  • All-in-one fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

About the Author


Jason M. Bruner is a freelance writer who has been in the field for more than five years. His content has been previously published on various websites.