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These plants (commonly known as African Masks and Elephant's Ears) are mainly valued for their gorgeous leaves, which are very large, heart- or spade-shaped and beautifully colored and variegated in gleaming shades of green, purple, bluish-green, red and bronze. They also produce small, calla-like flower spathes. It needs a large pot with good drainage (to about one third the depth) and should be planted ideally in equal parts of lumpy loam and fibrous peat, with some sand and a few lumps of charcoal. The rhizome should be planted at soil level. Feed the plants weekly while growing and protect from strong sunlight. Rest the rhizome in winter. Propagate by offsets in spring.
Alocasias require continual warmth and humidity. The soil should be rich but well drained, and the plant appreciates frequent watering (daily in hot weather), especially as if grows larger. Note however, that when the plant is young and small, too much water (particularly if the weather is cold) will rot the tuber, so be careful not to overdo it.
Bright light is preferred, but it will do well in anything up to 80 percent shade. Leaves tend to grow larger in shadier positions. Full sun is usually not preferred and may discolor the leaves, although it will usually cope with a bit of full sun provided it can get enough water.
A water plant that will float across the water surface. The internodes of Alternanthera aquatica are filled with air, as adaptation to its life as a floating plant, and look "bloated". Dainty white flowers.
While some of the better-known species are aquatic plants, most are terrestrial. They take many forms, from prostrate to erect to floating.
The flowers of this plant are very insignificant, bearing small bracts on a single stalk. These are best cut off, to allow the plant to concentrate on it's foliage. An attractive border plant or groundcover. About 10cm high, 1m spread.
Although Alternanthera can usually only be found during the warmer months in nurseries, it can be grown all year round. Grows best in full sun and in good soil this plant will respond handsomely. Fertilizing should be done with a water soluble variety so as not to burn the foliage. Can be clipped occassionally to form a neat low edging.
Propagation can be done by dividing larger plants during the cooler months of the year.
Species and varieties:
Alternanthera reinecki -aquarium plant
Alternanthera sessilis -aquarium plant
One of several broadleaf evergreen bog shrubs.
Distinguished from other bog shrubs by shape and bluegreen color of leaf.
Bog, often on floating mats of vegetation.
Cool, acidic soil (pH of 4.5-5)
Anemopsis californica is a spreading groundcover that has large, waxy, gray-green leaves that lay flat and form mats that from a distance look like a permanent pasture. In this species the inflorescence is conical and has five to ten large white bracts beneath it, so that along with the tiny white florets, the whole structure is quite striking when it blooms in spring.