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Alternanthera ficoidea (Calico Plant, Joseph's Coat)

By Contributor ; Updated September 21, 2017

(Alternanthera ficoidea)

The Alternantheras are grown for their brilliantly colored foliage, which ranges in color from red to green, blotched or variegated with yellow, red or orange. The leaves are long and pointed, and the growth habit is neat and compact. The white flowers are inconspicuous.

These tender perennials are usually grown as annuals, although they may be hardy to zone 8. Set out plants in the spring when all danger of frost has passed. Allow four inches between plants for a carpeted effect; otherwise, set them twelve inches apart. Provide full sun and moderately fertile soil with good drainage. Pinch back occasionally to keep the plant bushy. Propagate by taking cuttings. Cuttings one to two inches in length root quickly.

Plants may be potted and brought indoors for the winter. Take cuttings from these overwintered plants to provide bedding plants in the spring.

Alternantheras are striking accent plants in containers, and they also make an attractive edging. All varieties make excellent bedding plants. Plants can also be kept as houseplants, but remember that they need good light. Keep the soil moist when grown in pots.

  • Type
    usually grown as annuals
  • Propagation
    rooted cuttings
  • Light
    full sun, part shade
  • Flower Color
  • Height
    6-12 inches
  • Width
    12 inches
  • Soil Requirements
    average soil
  • Zones
  • Uses
    bedding, edging, containers, terrariums

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