The name derives from the Latin alternus “alterno” and from the greek anthercí “flowered” due to the fact that fertile stamens alternate with sterile stamens (staminodes). The genus includes dwarf or semi-tropical perennial grasses of South America, bushy and suffrutescent, cultivated for foliage brightly and variously colored and used for groups of color in the flower beds and for mosaics. The flowers are incalculable and are usually removed before development.
Cultivated species of Alternanthera:
A. amoena (8 cm), lanceolate leaves mottled in orange and red; variety: amabilis, orange and scarlet colored leaves; very bright, bronzed leaves variegated in red and yellow; rosy. Alternanthera bettickiana (cm 8-12), with spatulate leaves stained in yellow and red; the most commonly used varieties are derived: aurea, with yellow-gold obovate leaves; magnificent, with leaves similar to the type species, but more brilliant in color; spathulata, high up to 20 cm, with stems and red leaves. Alternanthera versicolor (8-12 cm), with sharp and twisted leaves, veins of carmine and with white and pink margins.
the A. are not rustic and can not bear the frosts, therefore the plants must be repaired in winter at a temperature of about 16 ° C, with the maximum possible brightness and kept rather dry. In spring, they can be placed outside, in a sunny position and with permeable soil, dividing the tufts that have survived the shelter. It can be multiplied by cuttings in August, naturally sheltering young seedlings before the onset of cold.
Also reed: Alstroemeria (Amaryllidaceae)