How To Grow Alternanthera For A Splendid Color In The Garden

5 Min Read

Alternanthera is a popular small, low-growing plant planted for its eye-catching leaves color. It’s a robust, low-maintenance plant that comes in burgundy, purple, lime green and orangey-red hues. It’s best suited to frost-free zones.

Alternanthera plant has beautiful leaves that would be a welcome addition to any garden. It grows well in high-humidity settings and looks great as a low border plant, ground cover, or in pots.

Alternanthera are suitable as an edging plant close to sidewalks, paths, or the front of the border. Taller types look great blended in the center of the border, where their brilliant foliage offers a splash of color but no flowers.

Alternanthera are also ideal options for container gardening because to their small size and vibrant color. The fine-textured leaves suit almost any houseplant.


Alternanthera is a flowering plant genus in the Amaranthaceae family. It is a prevalent genus, with the most species found in the tropical Americas and some in Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Alternanthera, also known as Joyweed plant, is a genus of over 200 species of delicate perennials and bushy annuals valued for their brilliant leaf as garden and indoor plants.

This plant is available in a broad range of colors and sizes, and its variegated foliage is the true show stopper. Pink, orange, red, yellow, copper, or purple splotches appear on the dark green leaves.

The leaves are arranged in a diagonal pattern. Inflorescences are spike or rounded heads that appear in the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. These perennials are grown as annuals and grow in size varying from 2 inch dwarfs to 12 inch leaf mounds.

They bloom, but the flowers are small and serve just to add color to an already vibrant plant. They may be kept indoors, which adds to the allure of this tropical plant that acts as an annual in northern regions.

Plant Overview

  • Botanical Name: Alternanthera ficoidia
  • Common Name: Joyweed
  • Family: Ameranthaceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Annual, Herbaceous Perennial, Houseplant
  • Mature Size: 6-12 in. tall, 1- 1 1/2 ft. wide
  • Soil Texture: High Organic Matter
  • Soil Type: Moist, well-draining
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral
  • Bloom Time: Fall
  • Flower Color: White
  • Hardiness Zones: 10 to 11 (USDA)
  • Native Area: South and Central America

Alternanthera Species

There are hundreds of Alternanthera species. It is unclear how many species belong to the genus. Estimates range from 80 to 200. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. Others are deep maroon, while others are green or gold.

Some grow to be one foot tall and make excellent ground cover, while others might grow to be three feet tall. Here are some popular Species of Alternanthera.

  • Alternanthera angustifolia: It is a tiny herb of the Amaranthaceae family which is found in inland Australia, from northern Western Australia to the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland.
  • Alternanthera areschougii: It is a plant species of the Amaranthaceae family. It is only found in Ecuador. Subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrub land are its native habitats. It is fragile due to habitat loss.
  • Alternanthera Dentata: It often known as small ruby and ruby leaf alternanthera is a fast-growing attractive groundcover plant in the amaranth family named after Stuchlk and Robert Elias Fries.
  • Alternanthera ficoidea: It is a blooming plant in the Amaranthaceae family that is also known as Joseph’s coat. It is native to the Caribbean and South America and is found as an exotic species in the tropics.

How To Grow Alternanthera

Select a sunny to semi-shaded area with well-drained soil. Yates Dynamic Organic Plant Food will help to enrich the soil. Add gypsum to areas with thick or clay soil to help improve soil structure and drainage.

Dig a planting hole twice the width and depth of the root-ball. Remove the plant from the container and gently tease the roots, removing any round or tangled roots.

Water in well after planting to settle the dirt around the roots and to keep the soil wet for many weeks as the new plant establishes itself. Depending on the weather, water it deeply once or twice a week.


Alternanthera may require summer pruning to keep it from becoming lanky. This is a great chance to utilize the trimmings and grow new plants.

To allow new leaves to grow, prune any dead or damaged foliage. Plant pruning should be done in the spring and summer. Pruning is not required daily and should be done sparingly.

Pruning Joyweed plants can keep from growing leggy and messy. This involves removing any diseased leaves or branches to create way for new ones.


Alternanthera are propagated using cuttings or seeds. It is preferable to prepare the seeds in germination mediums for around five weeks before moving them to the garden when growing it from seed.

It is best to transplant or transfer the plant outdoors at night when the temperature is consistently 60° F or above.

Cuttings should be taken in late autumn and rooted in a mixture of sand and vermiculite or perlite. It is best to divide the clumps of this plant in the spring season to maintain it as a perennial.

Alternanthera Care

Alternanthera is simple to care for, and it is also simple to grow. This plant needs little care as long as it is grown in well-draining soil in full sunlight in a hot climate.

Water the plants often enough to keep the soil from drying out entirely. They don’t require more fertilizer, but if they aren’t growing well, try feeding them a shovelful of compost in the summer.

If the mounds begin to sprawl or spread, cut them back. Cut shortly before the first frost is the simplest way to carry the plants from year to year. Start the cuttings indoors and place them in a bright spot till spring.

Soil and Fertilizer

Alternanthera prefers moist, fertile soil. This not only provides the plant with the nutrients it requires to thrive, but it also allows for vital drainage. Before planting joyweed, enrich the soil with lots of organic matter or compost.

Alternanthera does not require much fertilizer if grown in rich soil. More fertilizer might lead the plant to burn and die. Joyweed would benefit from liquid fertilizer in the summer months on poor soil. In-ground plants should be fertilized every two months.

Light and Water

These plants are native to hot, sunny areas and thrive in bright light. Joyweed is known for its vibrant leaf colors, yet these vibrant hues are only visible in bright sun. These plants can tolerate partial shade, although their coloring may fade.

Joyweed needs a lot of water to grow. Give at least one inch per week. Joyweed may be killed by both wet soil and drought. Maintain consistent soil moisture to avoid issues. With a healthy drink, these plants recover swiftly.

Temperature and Humidity

Joyweed cannot endure frigid weather since it is native to warm, humid regions. As a result, they may be kept outside as a perennial in zones 10 to 11. However, in most other USDA zones, these plants are regarded annuals.

Joyweed is a humid-area native. This makes keeping a regular watering schedule critical. In addition, adding a layer of mulch to outside plants will help to keep the soil moist.

Pest and Diseases

The most of the issues faced by the plant are easily avoided by picking the proper site and soil type. When grown in a poorly draining area, the plant will rot and lose its leaves color.

Slugs, caterpillars, and spider mites are drawn to this plant, but they are readily removed with your hands. Caterpillars may be killed naturally with soapy water.

Hope you enjoyed reading the Planting guide of Alternanthera. If you think we missed something or have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments section below.

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