How to Grow and Care For Alternanthera dentata (Joseph’s Coat)

How to Grow and Care For Alternanthera dentata (Joseph’s Coat)

How to Grow and Care For Alternanthera dentata (Joseph's Coat)

For years, many people have grown foliage plants like coleus to add a pop of colour without having to worry about blooms, but coleus occasionally gets a little out of control and produces unattractive summer flowers. Try Joseph’s coat if that’s the case for you. Even though they have fewer patterns and a smaller colour palette than coleus, these neat plants are equally simple to grow. The plants have a range of sizes and leaf shapes, some with broad, oval threads and others with thin, narrow threads. Others still have distinctive crinkled foliage, and some have leaves with different colours. Joseph’s coats come in a variety of colours and textures, all of which are simple to grow.

In most areas of the United States, Alternanthera, also known as Joseph’s Coat, is grown as an annual. In U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 10 and 11, it can also be grown as a perennial. Smaller varieties are known to form ground covers that quickly grow outward in mounds. Larger varieties can be used as a hedge because they grow taller.

Common Name Joyweed, Ruby Leafed Alternanthera, Joseph’s Coat
Botanical Name Alternanthera dentata
Family Amaranthaceae
Plant Type Perennial, Annual
Mature Size 6-12 in. tall, 1- 1 1/2 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Moist, well-draining (Acid, Alkaline, Neutral)
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Fall
Season of Interest Spring (early, mid, and late), Summer (early, mid, and late), Fall, and Winter
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 10 to 11 (USDA)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen
Spacing 18″– 24″(45cm– 60cm)
Native Area South and Central America

Growing And Caring For Joseph’s Coat

The tropical plant Joseph’s Coat prefers full sun and warmth. As a result, make certain that this plant is placed in the proper location. Plant seeds indoors in late winter if you’re starting from scratch. After the danger of frost has passed, transplant them to that sunny location. Ideally, plants should be placed 6 inches apart.

You can also begin Joseph’s Coat with cuttings. Take a snip off the tip of a stem, perhaps while pruning in the late summer. Immerse the tip in water until roots form. Plant your new seedling in a sunny location. Save yourself the trouble of seeds and fragile transplants if you live in a cooler climate with a short growing season.

Rich, organic soil is essential for your Joseph’s Coat plant. It will respond well if you feed it a liquid fertiliser every two or three weeks, such as fish emulsion. This plant will also require a lot of water. A weekly inch of water will keep your plant happy. Many gardeners prefer Joseph’s Coat because it grows large and bushy. However, some gardeners prefer to prune this plant. To keep new growth in check, you should only need to prune once in late summer.

Size & Growth

This plant has a typical growth habit for its species, growing to be about 12″ tall and 12″ wide. This plant’s burgundy foliage stays compact all the way to the ground. The leaves are an eye-catching shade of dark purple, but the foliage can range in colour from green to burgundy. Additionally, it has a propensity to arch over containers.


You can probably guess that since this plant is indigenous to tropical regions, Joseph’s coats love water.
Weather and soil type should be taken into account when watering. Sandier soils require less frequent watering because they retain more moisture than clay soils do. The top 2.5 cm of the soil should only be lightly watered, as Joseph’s coat prefers regular irrigation. At first, new plants need to be watered every day.

In the winter, Joseph’s coat will need less water whether it is grown inside or outside. As this plant can tolerate dry conditions but is quickly susceptible to rot in standing water, make sure the soil drains well. After being watered, wilted plants will noticeably recover.


These plants do well in a lot of light because they are native to hot, sunny climates. The vibrant foliage colours of joyweed are well-known, but they only appear in direct sunlight. Although these plants can withstand some shade, they might lose some of their colour and appear leggy or lanky.


Joyweed prefers lush, productive soil. This not only provides the plant with the nutrients it requires to remain healthy, but it also permits essential drainage. Make sure to amend the soil in your garden with lots of organic matter or compost before adding joyweed.


Joyweed doesn’t need a lot of fertiliser if it is planted in rich soil. Too much fertiliser can cause the plant to burn and die. On the other hand, in poor soil, your joyweed would benefit from summertime applications of a liquid fertiliser like fish emulsion.

Give in-ground plants fertiliser every two months. It is best to water containerized plants every two to three weeks. Fertilizer needs to be avoided in the winter. The plant will be able to rest during its season of naturally slow growth as a result.

Joseph’s Coat Varieties To Consider

Alternanthera ‘Party Time‘ is undeniably joyful! This tall variety prefers shade and has a striking colour contrast of deep pink and green. This plant will add a splash of colour to your garden. This is the variety depicted above.

Alternanthera ‘Red Carpet‘ is a beautiful ground cover. It will grow between 10 and 14 inches tall. Its brightest colours will be seen in full sun during the spring and fall.

Alternanthera ‘Gail’s Choice‘ can reach 3 feet in height and has deep purple foliage.

Alternanthera ‘Little Ruby‘ is an excellent ground cover with showy ruby and burgundy foliage.

Propagating and Pruning Joseph’s Coat

After the risk of frost has passed and the outside daytime temperature is between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius, seeds can be sown directly into the ground. Cuttings of Joseph’s coat can be easily propagated. Root cuttings grow well in water and can be transplanted to soil or pots with little difficulty. Gardeners can root cuttings in peat or moist sand by removing the leaves from the cutting’s bottom 15cm and inserting it with at least a pair of leaves above the surface level.

Spring or the end of the summer are the ideal times to take cuttings. You would need to dig the plant out of the ground, divide the roots into two or three sections, and make sure each section has a stem emerging from it in order to propagate by division. If you have some extra tiny pots on hand, it is very simple to propagate Joseph’s Coat. They can be lovely little presents for loved ones or friends. Joseph’s Coat can be controlled in appearance by pruning in the summer. In order to make room for new growth, dead or unhealthy branches are simply removed using this method.

Potting and Repotting Joseph’s Coat

Joseph’s Coat flourishes in containers. They can be kept indoors and make stunning, colourful hanging baskets. Look for a pot with drainage holes when selecting one. A plant can be quickly killed by soggy soil, so proper drainage is essential.


Joseph’s Coat thrives in containers, making it a great choice for people who live in regions with severe winters. As the temperature drops, bring it inside because this plant cannot withstand the harsh winters outside.

Joseph’s Coat Pests, Diseases, and Problems

Joseph’s coat is typically a pest- and disease-free plant that requires little maintenance. It is susceptible to rot if the soil is wet, and it cannot tolerate drought. Foliage colour loss is frequently a sign of rot or poorly draining soil.