Alternanthera or the Party Time is a beautiful plant from the Amaranthaceae Family. It is botanically known as Alternanthera Ficoidea. Party Time Plants have another common name- the Jacob’s Coat. Today we will discuss how to grow Alternanthera plants, especially the Party Time.
The genus Alternanthera consists of many flowering plants. It belongs to the Amaranth family, The cock horn flowers also belong to the same family. The Party time or Alternanthera Ficoidea plant is a-flowering one. Still, we grow them for their beautiful foliage. These plants contain Green leaves with light pink stripes and patterns. The variegated leaves are the Prime attraction of an Alternanthera Party time plant. Together they create an interesting color contrast with other plants.
These plants are very versatile with growth conditions. They can grow in different soil types and the best part is they are fairly tolerant to urban pollution. Alternanthera or party time is an ideal house plant for beginners.
Party Time, Alternanthera Ficoidea Plant info
- Botanical Name: Alternanthera Ficoidea
- Common Name: Party Time or Jacob’s Coat
- Family: Amaranthaceae
- Hardiness: USDA hardiness zone 3 through 9. This plant is ideal for indoor and part shade so you can grow them anywhere.
- Plant Type: Perennial Shrub
- Plant Size: 2-4 feet high in ideal condition. This plant can spread to the same width.
- Planting Time: Early Spring till Summer. In frost-free areas, you also plant them in the fall season.
- Specialty: Beautiful Varigated Green -Pink Foliage is the key attraction of the Party Time plant. They also bloom during late spring although it is not so popular.
- Sunlight: Alternanthera party time plants can grow well in full sun as well as in part shade.
- Soil requirements: These plants require soft well-drained soil rich in organic matter. There is no preference for specific soil ph although close to neutral soil is better for party time plants.
- Water: These plants do not require much watering. They can survive in light moist soil without water even for 2-3 weeks. Although standing water can be a problem for party time roots.
- Propagation: A Alternanthera Party Time plant can propagate through its seeds as well as fresh cuttings.
- Uses: It is grown as an Ornamental Decorative Plant.
Can You Grow Alternanthera Party Time in Containers?
Yes, they can grow well in containers. Alternanthera Party Time plants are best for container gardening. Their compact 0.3 m height makes them a great choice for containers. These plants are often grown individually in separate containers. You can club different plants together in garden beds but not in a single container.
An 8-10 inch container should be sufficient for a new Party time plant. Although you may need to shift them into a bigger container after 6-10 months. These ants can survive for many years. Therefore you should change o upgrade the container in 3 or 4 years.
Soil Preparation for Alternanthera plants
Alternanthera plants do not require specific soil preparations. They can grow well in any soil type irrespective of their ph value. In the garden simply add 2-3 inches of compost at the planting site and that’s it. Only care for proper drainage and if it’s a low land area. Then elevate the plant to a raised bed.
Proper soil drainage is the major concern for Alternanthera party time plants. They can survive in drought-like conditions but stagnant water for a couple of days can cause serious problems. Therefore add sand and cocopeat in the soil to adjust the drainage. Sand is the best option, especially for clay soil in the garden.
You must use a commercial potting mix for container gardening. Add extra compost, cocopeat, and perlite to adjust nutrition and moisture. Keep in mind container soil can lose nutrients and moisture more quickly than garden soil. You should be extra careful with the drainage and moisture retention in container soil.
I prefer clean garden soil with cocopeat, compost, and sand in equal proportion for Alternanthera in containers. You may need to repair and change container soil every year for healthy plant growth.
When and Where to Plant Alternanthera Party Time?
Choose a bright spot for Alternanthera party time plants. Even in indoor garden place then in bright light. A portion near the front window or balcony would be nice for Alternanthera plants.
Choose an open spot in your garden that receives 4 to 6 hours of daily sunlight. It should be dry at a raised level. Make sure there is no place for waterlogging around the planting spot. Keep the area clean and amend the topsoil with rich compost or dry-aged manure.
Plant the Alternantheras in early spring till summer. You can also plant these during the fall season, especially in warmer regions.
Garden Borders and Edges are best for planting Alternanthera plants. They also look great at adjacent sides of the gateway.
Container Selection and Preparation
Choose an 8-10 inch container to grow Alternanthera. It should have a few drainage holes. If not then punch a few with a hot needle or a screwdriver. You can use any deep container, it can be of any material. I prefer clay pots over plastic as they remain cool during hot summer days and provide proper aeration to the soil. Although plastic containers are also good for Alternantheras. They are reliable and strong. Plastic containers are also cheaper than clay or cement containers. The best part is they are easy to move.
Wash, clean, and dry the container properly. Treat the inner surface with contact fungicide before soil filling. you can also heat clay pots for better protection. Just burn a few news pares and wood pieces and place the inverted clay pot over it. Leave it to heat up, 10-15 minutes is enough for cleansing. Let it cool and then fill the soil in the container. Never try this technique with the plastic container as they will melt and you will regret that…
How to Grow Alternanthera in Containers?
- Half fill the container with healthy potting mix. Any Commercial potting mix is fine. Just add a fist full of compost and it’s done.
- Place the Alternanthera plant in the center on top of the soil.
- Fill the space with the same soil mix and gently tap to release any air pockets.
- Leave 2 inches clear at the top for watering.
- Mix 1 spoon of contact fungicide in 2 liters of water and gently pour it on the soil surface. Add more until it drips out from the drainage holes.
- Leve the plant and container in part shade for 7 days. This is the time for acclimatization. keep an eye on moisture level during this time. Never let the soil dry completely.
- You can shift the plant to its desired location after 7-10 days. If the plant looks droopy or fading at this time then keep an eye on it. Maybe something is wrong with it like transplant shock or any disease. Sot these plants and wait 1 more week for their recovery.
- Reduce watering to at most 1 inches per week per plant by the 10th day. Alternanthera Party time plants don’t require much watering. Just give them a deep spell and let the topsoil dry until next time.
- Don’t forget the feed these plants with liquid fertilizer or NPK once in 20 days. Nitrogenous fertilizer is better for Althernanthera plants. They can boost foliage growth instead of flowering.
Grow Alternanthera Party Time in Garden
- Buy a healthy Alternanthera plant from a local nursery or plant store. Seeds are also available yet you must use the grown plant for faster growth.
- Prepare border or edge garden for party time. Dig out the soil up to 8 or 10 inches deep. Let the soil dry and aerate for 3-5 days.
- Till and turn the dry soil twice a week. Add a 2-3 inch layer of compost on top of it and rake well.
- Dig a hole of root ball size. keep it a little bigger than the container you bought.
- gently take the Alternanthera plant out of its container. You can cut the plastic containers if it is necessary.
- Place the plant carefully in the center of the hole.
- Fill the remaining space with soil and compost mix.
- Sprinkle fungicide before the final layer of the soil mix.
- Tap the soil surface and water well. Drench the soil to its depth and leave the plant to settle for a week. Don’t worry you may not require water again during this time. If required then pour again after checking.
- Maintain 10-15 inch distance between adjacent plants and keep the area clean around its base.
- Cover the root ball area with light organic compost. Use only 2-inch compost or sawdust or rice husk as mulch.
- Feed these plants occasionally in 1 or 2 months with all-purpose fertilizers. You can also use liquid fertilizer and NPK fertilizers in 20-30 days for better plant growth.
- Always keep the Plant clean and well-groomed to avoid pest problems. If anything happens use neem oil and soap water to treat pests.
General Care for Alternanthera plants
- Buy healthy Alternanthera Party time plants. make sure they are free from pests and disease before buying or planting.
- If you doubt something then don’t buy the plant. If you bout it and then find any problem. Then You should wash off the plant with fungicide solution and dip the root in liquid consortia for 10 minutes before planting.
- Amend the soil to regulate moisture and drainage.
- Never overwater or allow water to stay on the soil. It can cause root rot.
- Don’t pour water into the foliage and avoid watering in the late evening. This can attract many pests.
- Always keep the plant clean by removing and deadheading spent foliage and flowers.
- Prune the plant immediately after the flowering season. Otherwise, it may start seeding and lose its beauty.
- Don’t forget to fertilize the plant before and after the flowering season.
- Add and replace the mulch to control weed growth. It also feeds the plant after decomposition thus making the soil rich and healthy.
- In case of a pest attack, use neem oil and soap water to clean the plant. Repeat twice every week until the problem is fully solved.