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Alternanthera dentata 'Firebug' (Joy weed, Calico plant, Alternanthera, Gomphera)

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Helpful articles

DIY Retaining Walls. Learn about building a retaining wall for your garden. This article explains your options.

Growing Grevilleas. Learn how to grow grevilleas in your garden.

Native Hibiscus. An ever increasing interest in native hibiscus has led to the horticultural development of a number of new cultivars which rival the exotic types in beauty and flower size.

Native grasses and friends. An exciting thing is happening in the world of Australian plants. Wild species that have tantalised gardeners in the past are now being improved to create a diverse palette of new varieties that offer all kinds of advantages. In particular, the necessity for water-wise, low maintenance gardens has inspired interest in plants that can be used as ground covers that will not only suppress weeds and erosion but also look fantastic.

Plant description

alternanthera dentata alternathea firebug pot

alternanthera dentata alternathea firebugirebug.

Alternanthera dentata 'Firebug' is a colourful groundcovering perennial. Use as a contrast or accent plant in warmer areas, or as as an annual in cooler climates, as it is frost tender. It makes a good low hedge plant, for massed plantings, for contrast in flower beds, and is a good container plant. Also good for green wall planting. It bears clusters of small white flowers, but the plant is grown for the foliage colour.

Alternanthera likes a part shade to full sun position, but the best colour is developed in the sun. It does best in moist, well drained soil, but is an adaptable plant to different situations. Lightly trim the plant to encourage a compact habit, or to keep the plant to a particular size. They respond well to regular tip pruning. 

The leaves are edible, and can be used raw or in soups and stews. They should not be eaten by pregnant women. A poultice of the leaves can be used for boils.

Propagation is from cuttings, which root readily.

This plant is also known as Alternanthera brasiliana, Gomphrena dentata, Gomphrena brasiliensis and Telanthera dentata.

This plant is becoming an environmental weed in wet areas in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Additional plant information

Flowers

Flower colour: cream
Flowering season: winter

Plant size

Maximum height: 0.5 metres
Minimum height: not specified

Maximum width: 0.5 metres
Minimum width: not specified

Sunlight, frost & salt tolerance

This plant will tolerate full or partial sunlight.
Light frost tolerance.
Plant is salt tolerant.

Fauna attracting?

Not specified.

Climate

This plant species will grow in the following climates: cool, temperate, subtropical.

Soil types & conditions

Loam: moist, well-drained.

Clay: moist, well-drained.

Sand: moist.

Soil pH: 6.1-7.5

Pests

Mealy bugs, aphids

Miscellaneous information

Planting season: Any in warm areas, spring in cooler areas.

Types of fertiliser: Good general purpose fertiliser, high nitrogen fertiliser will stimulate foliage growth.

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