by Jennifer Poindexter
Are you interested in growing alternanthera? It’s also commonly known as Joseph’s coat. This plant comes in many varieties, colors, and sizes.
Its color ranges from green, pink, red, purple, orange, and even lime green foliage. Some plants come in a single color while others are multi-colored.
If this excites you, let me introduce you to a specific variety of this plant known as “party time.” This variety has bright pink and green foliage.
It’s a little different from other varieties of alternanthera as it has different growing conditions than most.
When you decide to add party time to your growing space, here’s what you’re going to need to know:
Growing Conditions for Party Time
Party time alternanthera could be difficult for some gardeners because so much of the information to grow it is opposite of other alternanthera varieties.
Therefore, doing your research on this plant, prior to planting, is vital for its success around your home or garden.
To start, party time prefers more shade than other varieties. If growing outdoors, it does best where it’ll receive morning sunlight but afternoon shade.
However, if you’re growing the plant indoors, be sure to place it where it’ll receive plenty of bright light.
This plant is only hardy in planting zones nine through eleven as it’s a tender perennial. Therefore, it’s commonly overwintered indoors or grown outdoors as an annual only.
Whether growing party time indoors or outside, be sure to pick a growing location with well-draining soil.
If growing the plant in a container, it’s vital that it drains adequately as well. Party time is flexible and can grow in most soils, including those of poor quality.
Be sure wherever you grow party time that you have room. It will grow to be approximately two feet tall and almost equally as wide.
Once you have these growing conditions in place, it’s time to learn how to plant party time.
How to Plant Party Time
There are four ways to go about growing party time. The first method is to purchase a plant. Once your plant is home, place it in an outdoor growing location with the above-mentioned growing conditions.
Don’t plant this flower outdoors until all threat of frost is over. It’s wise to wait a week or more after the final frost date to ensure the temperatures are stable prior to planting.
You may also transplant it into a container and grow it indoors or outdoors, again, using a growing space with the above-mentioned growing conditions.
Wherever you choose to plant, be sure to dig a hole that’s deep enough to support the root system of the purchased plant. Then fill the hole once the plant is in place.
Press firmly around the base of the plant to ensure no air can reach the roots. Apply water to help it become established.
The next growing method is to grow party time from seed. Be advised, the seeds for this plant can be difficult to find because each plant only flowers once in its lifetime.
This makes it difficult to receive seed from any given alternanthera plant. However, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, plant them accordingly.
Fill a grow tray with well-draining potting soil. Place two seeds in each cell by gently pressing them into the dirt.
Don’t cover the seeds anymore than what you do naturally when pressing them into their growing medium.
Be sure to place the seeds in a warm location with temperatures in the mid-70’s (Fahrenheit). Spray the seeds with a bottle of water to ensure the soil doesn’t dry out.
This will supply necessary moisture without oversaturating your seeds and causing them to rot. It can take up to two months for the seeds to germinate.
Once this occurs, place the seedlings under a grow light and continue to provide care to these plants until they become established enough to be transplanted in their permanent growing location.
If you’re going to plant party time outdoors, be sure to spend a week or two hardening the plants off before making the move. This will help the plants avoid going into shock during the transition.
The third method of growing party time is to grow it from a cutting. If you have another mature plant, remove a three- to five-inch cutting.
Some people prefer to do this in spring and summer. Others wait until the fall, when the plants are beginning to die off.
Either way, remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting and place it in a glass jar partially filled with water.
Place the jar in a sunny location and wait for roots to form. Be sure to change the water each week.
When roots have formed, transplant the cuttings into a container with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist until the plants have become well-established.
At this point, you’re safe to transplant them into their permanent growing location. Again, it’s wise to harden any plants off that will be making a move from inside to an outdoor growing area.
Our final method for growing party time is to propagate from division. If you have a mature plant that seems to be going downhill, and hasn’t flowered yet, you could prolong its life by dividing it.
Use a spade to remove the plant from the ground or container. Then divide the plant all the way through the roots. Transplant each division into a new container or growing space which meets the criteria for growing conditions outlined above.
These are four ways you can go about growing party time around, or inside, your home. Pick the method that works for what’s available to you and start enjoying this beautiful plant as soon as possible.
Caring for Party Time
Caring for party time is a simple task as the plant isn’t very needy. The first thing this plant will need from you is water.
The deep watering method is best regardless if the plant is grown indoors or outdoors. Water the plant deeply, fewer days of the week.
Test the soil before you supply more water. Do so by sticking your finger into the soil next to the plant. When it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to have another deep watering session.
The next thing to consider is the amount of fertilizer you should apply to this plant. If you amended the soil prior to planting, you shouldn’t need to fertilize the plant again that particular year.
However, in future years or if you didn’t amend the soil, you should apply a balanced fertilizer to your plant.
Party time should be fertilized once per month during the growing season. However, be sure to dilute the fertilizer to 25% potency.
The next thing to consider is how to overwinter this plant. If you live in planting zone nine, party time will need to be mulched to protect the roots during colder temperatures when grown outdoors.
If you choose to overwinter party time indoors there are a few things you should know. First, be sure to bring the plant indoors before the first frost. Party time can’t handle frost, so it will die if left to experience it outdoors.
Next, always test the soil before applying more water. You don’t want to overwater the plant while it’s inside.
The next thing to consider is how frequently you should fertilize the plant. In most cases, it should only be fertilized once every six weeks.
Too much fertilizer can burn or kill these plants, so be mindful that you dilute the fertilizer before application.
Be sure to place the plant where it will receive bright light inside over the winter months. Also, be mindful of where you place it in regards to heat.
The plant shouldn’t need additional humidity applied to it, but don’t place it in close proximity to a heater or wood stove.
Another way to care for party time is to repot it when necessary. If you grow this plant in a container, it will need this no more than two times in its life.
Wait until the spring, when you feel the plant is becoming root bound or leggy, before transplanting in fresh soil and a larger pot.
Our final ways to care for party time are helping it flower (if you wish) and pruning. Party time can be encouraged to flower by using a fertilizer higher in phosphorus.
Be mindful, once the plant flowers it will quickly decline. Ensure you have another party time plant to take its place before encouraging the blooming process.
Then there’s pruning. This plant should only be pruned if it’s becoming unruly and needs help with maintaining its shape.
You might also choose to prune, if the plant has developed an issue with disease. You may prune away any of the damaged parts while treating the issue. Otherwise, pruning isn’t necessary.
These are the steps you should take when growing party time. They should help keep your plant looking its best while it provides a gorgeous display of color around your home.
Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact Party Time
The last thing we must discuss is how to protect party time from pests and diseases.
When growing party time, the greatest threat from diseases are fungal issues. This includes things like root rot, leaf spot, powdery mildew, and rust.
They can be treated with a fungicide, with the exception of root rot. This disease occurs when plants aren’t grown in well-draining soil.
If your plant develops root rot, typically it won’t make it. However, you can pull the plant out of its growing location, let it dry, and try planting it again in better growing conditions.
To avoid fungal disease, be sure to plant in well-draining soil, ensure the plant receives some sunlight to provide warmth to the soil, and also keep adequate space between plants to encourage better airflow.
The other threats your plant must face are pests. This includes: mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, slugs, and caterpillars.
Most of these pests can be treated with an insecticide. You may also try spraying your plants, forcefully, with soapy water. This will dislodge the bugs, their homes, and any residue they may leave behind.
Slugs are a little different. You can deter them by hand-picking them from your plants, applying coffee grounds at the base of the plant, or applying diatomaceous earth at the bottom of the plant.
Coffee deters slugs because they don’t like caffeine. Diatomaceous earth creates a dangerous terrain for the pests to crawl over.
Another trick is to rub your plants with rubbing alcohol to rid them of mealybugs. It should also kill any eggs left on your plants as well.
Take these tips and tricks and use them well to protect your plants from harm. Be vigilant in protecting them as early detection is one of the best ways to keep party time healthy.
You now know how to grow, care, and protect your party time plants. Be sure to pick the right growing location as this is vital to starting the plant off on the right foot.
By providing optimal care, the party time plant should put on a show with it’s brightly colored foliage. It will certainly brighten the spirit of your home whether it’s part of your landscape or grown as a houseplant.