Joseph's Coat

This charming plant comes in a range of colors and sizes.

Colorful Combinations

Many people have long grown foliage plants such as coleus to add a splash of color without having to worry about blooms, but sometimes coleus can get a little too large and have unattractive flowers in the summer. If this is the case for you, give Joseph's coat a try. These tidy plants come in almost the same range of colors as coleus, albeit fewer patterns, and are just as easy to grow. The plants come in different sizes and with a variety of leaf shapes—some with thin and narrow threads and others that are wide and oval. Others still have unique crinkled foliage and some have multicolored leaves. No matter the color or texture, all types of Joseph's coats are easy to grow.

Joseph's Coat Care Must-Knows

This charming foliage plant puts on quite a display of color with very little input and doesn't require much maintenance. When planting Joseph's coats in the ground as bedding plants, place them in well-drained soil. Joseph's coats don't like standing water, but they do enjoy consistent moisture. You will quickly find that once they are dry, Joseph's coats are very quick to wilt, but luckily they pop right back up once they receive some water.

To get the brightest colors out of your Joseph's coat plants, plant them in full sun. Indoors, give them a bright window with as much direct light as possible. In part shade, the colors may come across as more muted, and the habit of the plants can get a little lanky. If the plants become loose in habit, they are amenable to pinching and shearing to keep them groomed and tidy.

Multipurpose Plants

The fairly tight internodes of Joseph's coats make them very versatile and allow them to be used in a few different ways. Small-leaf varieties work well at the edges of garden beds, and they can be trained into more formal small hedges making them great for colorful knot gardens. Some of the tiny types also make great additions to terrariums and fairy gardens, as they can be trimmed and maintained at a very small scale. Large-leaf varieties are perfect for the middle of borders, and some have looser habits that work well mingling with other plants like petunias. All of the varied types of Joseph's coat work well in containers, both inside a house and out. If you are planning on using them in pots, use a well-drained, general-purpose potting mix with a slow-release fertilizer.

More Varieties of Joseph's Coat

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Joseph’s Coat Overview

Description While these plants don’t have the most interesting or showy blooms, they easily make up for it with their stunning, jewel-tone foliage. Joseph’s coat plants make a wonderful accent in any garden setting and can even work well as showy houseplants. With several hundred species available, these plants offer quite a bit of diversity, allowing for many different leaf shapes, sizes, and textures. Plant them in full sun for the best and brightest foliage colors.
Genus Name Alternanthera
Common Name Joseph’s Coat
Plant Type Annual
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 24 inches
Foliage Color Purple/Burgundy
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
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Joseph's Coat

Alternanthera ficoidea, Joseph's coat
Dean Schoeppner

Alternanthera ficoidea bears purplish foliage on a spreading low plant perfect for containers.

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'Gail's Choice' Joseph's Coat

'Gail's Choice' Joseph's coat
Marty Baldwin

Alternanthera 'Gail's Choice' offers dark purple-red foliage on an upright plant that can reach 3 feet tall.

Joseph's Coat Companion Plants

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Angelonia Serena White
David Speer

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 keep it flowering all winter.

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Dusty Miller

dusty miller Senecio cineraria
Tom McWilliam

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 green foliage. Dusty miller has earned its place in the garden because it's delightfully easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought-like a champion.

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Marty Baldwin

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.

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