- Type: Tropical Perennial
- Zone: 10 – 11
- Height: 6 – 12 Inches
- Spread: 6 – 18 Inches
- Bloom Time: Seasonal Bloomer
- Bloom Description: White, Insignificant
- Sun: Full Sun – Part Shade
- Water: Medium
- Maintenance: Low
- Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover
- Leaf: Colorful
A tropical perennial, Joseph’s Coat is winter hardy to USDA Zone 10 and is grown exclusively for its colorful foliage. Grow in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best foliage colors are usually developed in full sun; however, some bleaching of colors may occur in full sun in hot summer climates. In Zones outside 10 or 11, Joseph’s Coat is typically grown outdoors as an annual (e.g., ground cover, edger or in containers), but may also be grown indoors as a houseplant as long as it is sited in a bright, sunny location and soils are kept moist. Plant 4-9” apart for ground cover effect. Pinching stems or shearing will keep plants compact and bushy. Smaller plants may be potted up and brought inside in winter. In the alternative, tip cuttings may be taken in late summer for overwintering indoors.
Alternanthera ficoidea is a low-growing plant that typically grows on erect to procumbent stems to 6-12” tall. It is native from Mexico to Argentina. Species plants have elliptic to broad ovate green leaves (to 1” long). However, it is the brightly colored cultivars that have become the popular garden plants, featuring green leaves blotched with yellow, orange, red, brown, copper or purple, sometimes with red veining. Foliage of the brighter colored cultivars is suggestive of coleus. White apetalous flowers appear stalkless or on short stalks in small axillary clusters in late fall to winter, but are insignificant. Flowers are usually observed only on houseplants or on container plants brought inside for overwintering. Plants in the genus Alternanthera have a rather large number of descriptive common names, including but not limited to Joseph’s coat, copperleaf, calico plant, bloodleaf, joyweed and parrot leaf, all in reference to the brilliantly colored leaves which provide foliage contrast to gardens and container plantings.
Slugs, spider mites, and caterpillars are occasional problems. Scout for caterpillar activity in late August.
Ground cover. Container. House plant.