Red calico plant is an evergreen tender perennial and  a member of the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae, that also includes beets, spinach, celosia, and gomphrena.  It is native to Brazil but is grown for its foliage in tropical and subtropical gardens and as a container and house plant.  The plants grow 8-20″ tall and have erect branched stems carrying  variegated foliage. The oval to spatulate leaves are green sometimes tinged with red or yellow and are carried on short petioles.  In fall 2-5 white to cream colored flowers appear in terminal or axillary globose clusters less than 1/4″ in diameter. The flowers lack petals and are not interesting ornamentally.  This species is very similar to A. ficoides and is sometimes considered a variety of that species.   The genus name, Alternanthera, comes from the Latin word alternus meaning alternating and the Greek word anthos meaning flower but later used to refer to the pollen bearing part of the flower.  The term refers to the arrangement of the anthers in the flowers.  The specific epithet, bettzickiana, honors the 19th century gardener August Bettzick.

Type: Evergreen tender perennial

Bloom: Globose heads of inconsipicuous white to cream flowers in fall

Size: 8-20″ H

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 10-11

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, stem cuttings

Companion Plants: Ornamental sweet potato, sun coleus, ageratum

Outstanding Selections:

‘Aurea Nana’ (4″ tall; grassy foliage splashed with cream, yellow, and dark green)

‘True yellow’ (chartreuse foliage)


Photo Credit: Wikipedia


By Karen