BY LORI MURRAY
Two species of alternanthera have been named to the Superstar list recently. Little Ruby, a groundcover, and Brazilian Red Hots, a mounding sort of shrub, are both versions of the old-time “Joseph’s Coat.”
Little Ruby became a Superstar in 2015. It’s about a third the size of the older Joseph’s Coat and is a much smaller, compact, thicker, and fuller type of seasonal ground cover. It has a long planting season and while typically planted in late winter or early spring, can also be planted through the summer and fall with good results. Little Ruby grows in sun or shade and its color varies from green to red to deep burgundy depending on how much sunlight it gets during the day. In a shady location it will be more greenish. If it gets more sun it will have a darker, more intense burgundy color. It’s easy to grow and an excellent choice for a beginning gardener. An experienced gardener will also find it useful as it can be used by itself or with other plants. New plants should be placed about 12 inches apart and should establish in four to six weeks.
Brazilian Red Hots was named a Superstar this year. Its foliage is a lively hot pink or rose and it prefers partial shade. However, it can tolerate the hot Texas summer sun heat if planted early in the spring. It will require more water. It grows 24 – 36 inches tall with a 12 – 18 inch spread. It will tolerate poor soil but does best (as most plants do) in well prepared soil amended with organic matter and with good drainage. Both versions are effective in garden beds, containers, and patio pots. In the late fall, both may produce little white flowers that contrast beautifully with the foliage. Little Ruby contrasts well with plants that have yellow, gold, or even white blooms. Brazilian Red Hots are excellent stand-alone plants but they will accent a repertoire of other popular Superstar selections such as Cora Vinca, Butterfly Penta, Serena Angelonia and Baby’s Breath Euphorbias.