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Alternanthera ficoidea 'Red Threads' (Joseph's coat, Parrot leaf)

Alternanthera ficoidea 'Red Threads' Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais


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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Botanical Name: Alternanthera ficoidea 'Red Threads' all-ter-NAN-ther-ah fih-KOY-dee-ah Common Name: Joseph's coat, Parrot leaf Synonyms: 'Red Fine Leaf' Genus: Alternanthera
A. ficoidea ‘Red Threads’ is a slender-leaved perennial selection that doesn't wander, forming a textured carpet in shades of deep burgundy. A single plant makes a mound about 8 inches tall and 14 inches wide. It blooms on and off all year, but you may never notice. The small, pale flower buttons are held in the leaf axils, where they are nearly indistinguishable from the foliage unless you're paying close attention. Use 'Red Threads' at the base of taller plants in the border to provide vibrant color echoes or contrasts. Grow as a warm-season annual in cooler climates, mass the plants in beds, or use in a formal knot garden as the Victorians did.
Noteworthy characteristics: Colorful, fast-growing tropical plant. Easy to grow.
Care: Plant out after the frost-free date in moist but well-drained soil in full sun (for best leaf color) or in partial shade. Clip back to keep plants compact. Indoors, grow in full light. Water only sparingly in winter.
Propagation: Sow seed at 55° to 64°F as soon as ripe, or in spring. Seedlings will vary in leaf color. Divide in spring. Take cuttings in late summer. Overwinter young plants under glass.
Problems: Spider mites and Fusarium wilt may be problematic.
Spread 6 in. to 12 in.
Growth Pace Moderate Grower
Light Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture Medium Moisture
Maintenance Moderate
Characteristics Showy Foliage
Foliage Color Colorful/Burgundy Foliage
Flower Color White Flower
Uses Beds and Borders, Container, Ground Covers, Indoor Plant, Suitable as Annual
Style Formal Garden
Seasonal Interest Summer Interest
Type Perennials

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Yellow Form' Alternanthera is an easy-to-grow, tropical plant with a fast-spreading habit and pointed, chartreuse-yellow leaves. It forms a mat of color from spring's frost-free date to fall's first frost. Like others of this genus, it makes a great edging, bedding, or container plant. In formal landscapes, it can be used in a knot garden. It looks great with dark-leaved plants.

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

As basic as a black dress, 15-inch-tall ‘Red Trailing Queen’ bedecks herself from leaf to stem in regal burgundy. Her simple oval leaf shape and straightforward color complement most shades, except blue and true purple. The subtle strength of the coleus’s burgundy foliage strikes a balance with soft pinks or pale yellows as well as bright fuchsias or bold oranges.

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

The 14-inch-tall cultivar ‘Trailing Bleeding Heart’ has hot fuchsia-pink leaves ringed with purple and a band of lime green.