How to grow Alternanthera

How to grow Alternanthera

Alluding to the fact that alternate anthers are usually infertile (Amaranthaceae). Joy weed. Used in the main for foliage effect, these half-hardy shrubby perennials have brightly colored foliage. The flowers are insignificant and are not usually allowed to develop.

Species cultivated A. amoena, 3 inches, leaves, green veined with orange-red blotches; vars. amabilis (leaves orange-scarlet), rosea and spectabilis. A. bettickiana, 3-4 inches, leaves blotched with shades of yellow and red. Has given rise to most popularly grown forms: aurea, golden yellow leaves; magnifica, leaves similar to, though brighter than the species; paronychioides, leaves basically orange-red with olive green tints, red tips on young foliage; spathulata, 6-8 inches, stems and leaves red, underneath bronzy overtones. A. versicolor, 3-4 inches, leaves coppery red.

Cultivation An ordinary garden soil is suitable and a sunny position should be chosen. Plant 2 inches apart for massed effect. Set the plants out in May and lift in September after the first frost, when they are trimmed to 3-4 inches. Store for winter on the dry side in a temperature of 60-65°F (16-18°C). Propagate by division of stored plants in spring, rooted offsets being grown on. Cuttings can be taken in August, rooted with heat in winter and potted in spring.

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photo by FD Richards