Skip to main content

Surviving the Heat with Colorful Foliage

Flowers are both beautiful and beneficial in the garden, but plants do go through transitions were flowers fade. In these cases, consider garden enhancements with foliage to add more consistent color during the long growing season.
One plant group to consider are the alternantheras which are excellent warm season selections that add a burst of color to landscape beds.  There are many different sizes and colors of alternantheras on the market, so there should be one that will fit in with your summer landscape needs.

Little Ruby alternanthera blends well with both annual and perennial flowers for warm season color. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

An attractive purple-foliaged alternanthera is Little Ruby.  Use this as a front of the border plant or in containers.  Little Ruby is compact and mound forming, growing about 1.5 feet in height.  If you need a more sprawling purple foliage selection, consider Purple Knight.  Plants can spread about 3 feet over the growing season.  In North Florida, alternantheras are mostly considered annuals.  In more protected landscapes, some plants may return in the spring, but plan to purchase more from your favorite nursery most years.

Purple Knight alternanthera will have a little more sprawling growth habit. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County