- Writer: Adam Russell, 903-834-6191, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact: Brent Pemberton, 903-834-6191, email@example.com
- Cynthia McKenney, 806-742-2838, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION — Alternanthera varieties have been popular ornamental plants for decades, but the new Texas Superstar – Brazilian Red Hots – represents an exceptional new option with vigor and vibrant color, according to ornamental experts.
Brazilian Red Hots is a very dependable selection of the old-time Joseph’s Coat that grows with a mounding habit, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas A&M AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist in Overton. The attractive, lively, hot pink and rose shades-outlined foliage make it a delightful addition to any Texas garden.
“There are many varieties of Alternanthera plants but this one is exceptional with its foliage color and performance around the state,” Pemberton said.
The tropical perennial plants are easy to grow low-input and prefer partial shade, but can tolerate the hot Texas sun if planted in the spring or if planted in northern parts of the state. However, its attractive foliage color is most vibrant if planted in intense sunlight.
Though not the plant’s biggest feature, and often inconspicuous, ball-shaped white flowers spring out above the foliage in mid-winter in regions where there is little or no frost.
Brazilian Red Hots plants are 24-36 inches tall with a 12-18-inch spread.
They are somewhat drought-tolerant once established, but it might take a period of supplemental irrigation after planting, Pemberton said. They should be planted in well-prepared soil amended with organic material.
Plants benefit from being cut back lightly as days become longer in late spring to promote a vigorous flush of summer color and possibly again in late summer for a fall flush.
Pemberton said Brazilian Red Hots is an excellent stand-alone plant that can be planted as a mass border planting or to accent a variety of other popular Texas Superstar selections, such as Cora Vinca, Butterfly Pentas, Serena Angelonia and Baby’s Breath Euphorbias. The plant can also complement combination plantings in containers.
Dr. Cynthia McKenney, ornamental horticulturist at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, said the plant performed pretty well in partial shade in that part of the state. She said establishing the plant in early spring helped it tolerate the heat and sun and maximize its color.
McKenney said people are drawn to the vibrant colors displayed by the foliage.
“People pick it out,” she said. “They see the foliage, the hot pink and fuchsia and they stop to look at it. It’s definitely a head turner.”
Brazilian Red Hots has been named a 2016 Texas Superstar plant by AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturalists after two years of field trials around the state.
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only be beautiful but must also perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state, Pemberton said. Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced.
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System.
“Alternantheras are old garden plants that were very popular in the 1950s and 60s, but the new varieties are bringing it back to popularity again,” Pemberton said.
A list of wholesalers and retailers who stock Texas Superstar plants and labels can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.