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The two common names given to this tropical plant -- calico plant or Joseph's coat -- say it all: Its richly colored leaves in purples, bronzes, oranges, reds, purples, and yellows make it an interesting addition to the bed or border. In the tropics, it's a perennial, but most gardeners grow it as an annual. It's a top pick for containers, and if you have a sunny window, you can even bring it inside and use it as a houseplant. Like so many tropical plants, it likes rich, moist, but well-drained soil.
how to grow Joseph's coat
more varieties for Joseph's coat
Alternanthera ficoidea bears purplish foliage on a spreading low plant perfect for containers.
'Gail's Choice' Joseph's coat
Alternanthera 'Gail's Choice' offers dark purple-red foliage on an upright plant that can reach 3 feet tall.
plant Joseph's coat with
Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you'll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach a foot or 2 high, but they're studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long with spirelike spikes of blooms. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter.
Dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything. The silvery-white color is a great foil for any type of garden blossom and the fine-textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast against other plants' green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it's delightfully easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought like a champion.
Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass also sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.