Monday, January 5, 2009

Alternanthera dentata and cultivars

Alternanthera dentata is a quick growing dark purple foliaged shrub to about 30cm which comes into its own during the summer months ,providing a colour contrast to gold and silver foliaged plants and showing great resistance to pests and diseases as well as requiring minimal watering (Hence its popularity in commercial landscaping) Outside the tropics ,it has a semi dormant time during winter ,as shown in the photo below, when it forms masses of slightly prickly flower heads and ceases growth.The cultivars 'Island Sunset' and 'Firebug' are less hardy and need to be kept on the dry side during winter. They may even become semi deciduous as well . 'Island Sunset ' has smaller leaves which have a curled and twisted appearance and these are intensely hot pink in colour . 'Firebug' retains some of the broader leaves of its parent but shows interesting colour variation with some leaves orange and tan in colour as well as pink.All repond well to clipping and shaping as growth may become "twiggy" without pruning.
Postscript July 2010: I am not sure whether the cultivars are worth recommending for zones outside the tropics. My stock plants have completely lost their leaves and may not last till the weather warms up.
2017 update: I no longer grow any though they could be treated as a summer annual.

Alternanthera dentata during winter

Alternanthera dentata cv 'Island Sunset'

Alternanthera dentata cv 'Firebug'


  1. Is altheranthera "Firebug" good to use for a hedge?

  2. Good for a low hedge say to 40cm but needs constant clipping over summer.Growth in cool climates slow over winter.Plenty of it available in Sydney trade markets at present.