How to Grow Joseph's Coat

Joseph's coat plant

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Are you looking for a unique addition to your garden? Perhaps you would like something that catches your eye without even needing flowers. Meet Joseph’s Coat.

This plant comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes, and its variegated foliage is the real star of the show. The dark green leaves feature splotches of pink, orange, red, yellow, copper, or purple. Some are multiple colors dappled into one plant.

Though they do flower, the blooms are small and act as accents to the already vibrant plant. Some varieties of Joseph’s Coat make great ground cover while others can grow as tall as three feet. They can even be kept inside, adding to the appeal of this tropical plant that acts like an annual in northern climates.

Botanical Name Alternanthera
Common Name Joseph’s Coat
Plant Type Perennial or annual
Mature Size 6 to 12 inches tall, 1 to 3 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, moist, well-draining
Soil pH Slightly acidic to neutral
Bloom Time Fall
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 10 to 11, USA
Native Area South and Central America

Joseph’s Coat Care

Caring for Joseph’s Coat is a breeze and they are easy to propagate from too.

Light

These plants come from hot, sunny climates, so they thrive with plenty of sun. Joseph’s Coat is known for its bright foliage colors, but these eye-catching hues only shine when in full sun.

These plants can tolerate partial shade, but they may lose some of their coloring and take on a leggy or lanky look.

Soil

Joseph’s Coat loves rich, fertile soil. Not only does this give the plant the nutrients it needs to stay healthy, but it also allows crucial drainage. Before adding Joseph’s Coat to your garden, be sure to amend the soil with plenty of organic matter or compost.

Water

Joseph’s Coat needs a lot of water to stay happy. Around an inch per week is ideal.

Soggy soil can kill your Joseph’s Coat. But on the other hand, drought can too. Keeping a consistent soil moisture level will help you to avoid any problems. Let the first inch of the soil dry out before watering to avoid overwatering.

If you forget to water, you may notice that your Joseph’s Coat is quick to wilt, but don’t panic. These plants spring back quickly with a good drink.

In the winter, whether outside or inside, your Joseph’s Coat will not need as much water as it does in its active growing months. Hold back and give your plant a drink when the top two to three inches of the soil is dry.

Temperature and Humidity

Since Joseph’s Coat is native to warm, humid climates, it is no surprise that they cannot survive in freezing temperatures. In zones 10 to 11, they can be kept outside year-round as a perennial. However, these plants can be grown as annuals in almost all USDA zones.

If you would like to keep it as a perennial in colder climates, Joseph’s coat grows well in containers and can be overwintered indoors.

Joseph’s Coat is native to humid areas. This makes keeping a regular watering schedule very important. Adding a layer of mulch to your outside plants will help maintain the needed moisture in the soil.

Fertilizer

With rich soil, Joseph’s Coat does not require much additional fertilizer. Too much can burn and kill the plant. However, in poor soil, your Joseph’s Coat would do well with liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion. Give this during the summer months.

Every two months is ideal for plants in the ground. For plants in containers, every two or three weeks is best. During the winter, you will want to withhold fertilizer. This will allow the plant to rest during its naturally slow growing season.

Potting and Repotting

Joseph’s Coat grows wonderfully in containers. They make beautiful, vibrant hanging baskets and can even be kept inside.

This is a great option for those living in areas with harsh winters as they can easily be moved inside as the temperatures drop. When choosing a pot, be sure to find one with drainage holes. Soggy soil can quickly kill your plant, so good drainage is a must.

Varieties of Joseph’s Coat

The Alternanthera genus has hundreds of varieties. They offer a wide range of colors and sizes. Some are green or gold while others are a deep maroon. Some make great ground cover and reach up to one foot in height, while others can grow as tall as three feet. Here are some popular varieties of Joseph’s Coat.

  • Alternanthera 'Partytime': Sporting vibrant pink, green, and yellow leaves, it's easy to see where it gets its name.
  • Alternanthera 'Gail’s Choice': This variety can grow as tall as three feet, and boasts deep purple foliage.
  • Alternanthera 'Little Ruby': This variety makes a great ground cover and has showy ruby and burgundy foliage.

Pruning

Your Joseph’s Coat may need to be pruned during the summer to keep it from getting leggy. This is a perfect opportunity to use the trimmings to create more plants.

Propagating Joseph’s Coat

Propagating your Joseph’s Coat is easy and can be done by cuttings or division.

If you do not want to reduce the size of your original plant, propagating with cuttings is the way to go. They can be placed in water until roots form and then transferred to moist soil.