Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

The Plant Guide

Browse the Full Plant Guide

Calico plant

Alternanthera dentata 'Purple Knight'

all-ter-NAN-ther-ah den-TAY-tah Audio

This dark-leaved, tropical foliage plant loves heat, and is useful spreading through a bed, border, or in a container where its deep purple leaves can contrast with brightly colored flowers or foliage. Alternanthera are native to tropical and sub-tropical areas of Central and South America. Their flowers are generally an afterthought. This plant works well for edging, as an annual groundcover, or in a formal knot garden.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsPurple-ruby foliage that is almost black. Performs well in high heat, where its color deepens and becomes richer. Easy to grow from seed.

CarePlant out after the frost-free date in moist but well-drained soil in full sun (for best color) or partial shade. Pinch or clip back to maintain compact form.

PropagationSow seed at 55°  to 64°F as soon as ripe, or in spring (seedlings may vary in color). Divide in spring. Take cuttings in late summer.

ProblemsGenerally trouble-free, but spider mites and Fusarium wilt may be problems.

  • Genus : Alternanthera
  • Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Plant Type : Annuals
  • Uses : Containers, Ground Covers
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Foliage Color : Purple/Burgundy
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest

Plant Characteristics are only available to Fine Gardening members

Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to our complete plant guide as well as our entire collection of articles and videos.

Start Free Trial

Related Plants

Related Articles

More From the Plant Guide

Winter Interest

Partial Shade

Browse the Full Plant Guide