Grown primarily for its foliage, this tender evergreen herbaceous perennial is native to the West Indies and Brazil and is a member of the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae, that also includes beets, spinach, celosia, and gomphrena.  Plants are sprawling to upright and grow 1-3′ tall.  They have linear to lanceolate leaves  3-4″ long and  with pointed tips.  The leaves of the species have dark green tops and paler undersides while those of the popular cultivars are purple to burgundy.  From fall into winter small spikes of  inconspicuous white to greenish apetalous flowers are produced in the leaf axils.  A popular edger, this plant also does well in containers and can be brought indoors during the winter if it is provided with bright light and consistently moist well-drained soil.  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, dentata,  comes from the Latin word dens meaning tooth and refers to the toothed margins of the leaves.

Type: Tender evergreen herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Small spikes of white to greenish apetalous flowers from fall to winter

Size: 1-2′ H x 1-2’W

Light:Full sun to part shade

Soil: Organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 10-11 as perennial

Care:Pinch to encourage bushiness

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation:  Seed, stem cutting (root easily in water)

Companion Plants: Lantana, begonia, liriope, red annual salvia

Outstanding Selections:

‘Little Ruby’ (purple leaves)

‘Wave hill’ (large plant with large purple leaves)



By Karen