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Grown exclusively for its colorful foliage - rich purple to burgundy leaves. Forms spreading foliage mounds to 12-30" tall. Common names - Joseph's coat, copperleaf, calico plant, bloodleaf, joyweed and parrot leaf - all in reference to the often brilliantly colored leaves which provide foliage contrast to gardens and container plantings.Best foliage colors are developed in full sun. It grows better in organically rich and consistently moist, well-drained soils, But not completely dry out. May also be grown indoors as a houseplant as long as it is sited in a bright, sunny location and soils are kept moist. Plants may be grown from seed by starting them indoors in late winter and transplanting them outdoors after last frost date. Pinching stems or shearing will keep plants compact and bushy.
Variety Watermelon has amazing colorful foliage with a combination of red, pink, orange, yellow and green.
Beautiful Variegated pink leaves. Takes both sun or shade, perfect accent plant that attracts attention of everyone who's passing by.
Unusual variegated white leaves. Takes both sun or shade, perfect accent plant that attracts attention of everyone passing by.
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
Irregularly shaped tree with a bent and twisting, angular trunk. Simple, alternate ovoid leaves, thick and stiff. Waxy, glossy, and dark green, they contrast markedly with the lighter bark of the branches and twigs. Solitary flowers may be found growing amid the foliage or directly from the sides of the bare sections of the larger limbs and even the trunk. They are large, white, and composed of four thick petals fused into a bent and angular corolla tube that flares distally into a trumpet. The green calyx that covers and protects the developing flower during its early development is also fused into one piece, and it splits irregularly when the blossom finally emerges. Five long, black-anthered stamens and a central pistil are found within the perianth. Flowers are nearly present throughout the entire year. Fruits are large (4"in diameter), ovoid, indehiscent green pods with a smooth, glossy texture and an appearance similar to the fruits of the Jicaro (Crescentia alata ) tree. Inside the thin, woody skin of the pod is a white fleshy pulp that surrounds several black seeds. The white pulp and seeds of the fruit are edible. Jicarillo wood is reportedly hard and rot resistant.
Pollination: "Members of this genus are not bee pollinated - the flowers have peak nectar production at night, and you'll notice that they produce quite a lot of nectar. Bees are generally after the pollen, they would probably drown in all the nectar this species produces. The flowers are also pretty big - these are bat pollinated. The bees will certainly visit, but they are not effective transferrers of the pollen to the stigma". (By Susan Grose)