I’m always looking for new annuals to use in pots and containers that are deer-tolerant. I decided to try Alternanthera and what a beautiful foliage plant. Grows quite large although you could clip it as it branches easily. The foliage of Purple Prince is brown-red and best of all showed no signs of pest damage all season. I had some planted in full sun, some in morning sun and afternoon shade and both areas did equally well.
I grew mine from seed the first year. Germination was about 50% but that could have been me as I tend to overwater starts and these have to be surface sowed. They were also slow to get growing. I have lots to learn about that!
In the fall I took a few clippings and put them in water. They rooted easily, grew very fast and I now have two mother plants in the greenhouse to create more plants for the spring so growing Alternanthera from cuttings may be the better way to go.
|Exposure||Sun to part shade, colour better in full sun|
|Bloom||Small white blooms in summer although I did not see any|
|Habit||Spreading, well-branched, spiller|
|Deadheading||None, clip back for size if needed|
How to sow
- 10-12 weeks before frost (mine grew slow so I’d sow earlier if you want a 3-inch pot size by transplant time)
- seedlings grow slowly, taking 4-5 weeks before transplant so use small pots to start aka 6-cell pack
- surface sow, press lightly – do not cover. Seeds need light to germinate.
- Germination is best at 80°F (26°C) so use heat mats. Germinates in 7 to 10 days.
- Use bottom heat and water with warm water.
Plant starts take a while to get to transplant plug size. Apparently, lots of light prevents flowering.
I did not use a lot of extra fertilizer in the containers over the season. I put in slow-release pellets and then fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer once a month and mine grew very large by fall.