Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Alternanthera ficoidea (photo courtesy of Ball Horticultural Co.)
Alternanthera ficoidea (photo courtesy of Ball Horticultural Co.)

Click to Enlarge

Zones A1-A3, 1-24, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular Water

Alternanthera ficoidea

Joseph’s Coat, Parrot Leaf
Annuals, Perennials

This unique foliage plant, native from Mexico to Argentina, grows 6–12 in. high and spreads variably. Its leaves often resemble artists’ watercolors.

Among the many varieties are ‘Bettzickiana’ (A. bettzickiana), sometimes called calico plant, with spoon-shaped leaves blotched yellow and red; ‘Green Machine’, with dark green, quilted leaves; ‘Red Threads’, with narrow, burgundy leaves; ‘Versicolor’, with broad green leaves marked with yellow and pink veins; and ‘White Carpet’, with puckered green leaves boldly edged in white. A form from Thailand that is grown in Hawaii has larger green leaves with irregular white margins.

Plant 4–10 in. apart for best impact. Alternanthera is useful as an edging or groundcover and accepts most well-drained soils. It will take some shade but is not salt-tolerant. Striking in containers among other potted tropicals. Easy to grow from cuttings. Keep plants compact by shearing.

You Might Also Like...

Chinese Cabbage

Biennial grown as an annual. With a looser head and more delicate flavor than ordinary cabbage (a clos...

Portulaca oleracea

The unimproved form is thought to have originated in India; it’s an edible weed with tiny yellow...

Cabbage and Kale, Flowering

Flowering cabbage and flowering kale are grown for their leaf rosettes, which look like giant, deep bl...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More