Within the genre Alternanthera we find about 140 species of herbaceous plants native to all the continents of the world. We find tropical plants, plants that need higher humidity and even aquatic plants. This genus belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and some of the main species are the Alternanthera phycoidea and Alternanthera reineckii, being this widely used for aquariums.
In this article we are going to tell you all the characteristics of the main plants of the genus Alternanthera.
Features Alternanthera phycoidea
This plant is native to the tropical areas of America and is also known from the vulgar names of coquette, mosaic or gardener. It is a type of herbaceous plant with evergreen leaves and a creeping or upholstery bearing. This plant is usually smaller in size and does not exceed half a meter in height. They are widely used for garden decoration thanks to the attractiveness of their leaves. The most interesting thing about ornamentation is that the leaves, although they are very small, are purple in color and have an oval and lanceolate shape.
Unlike other plants, this does not have a flowering with interest for decoration since they are very small and white flowers. The interesting thing here are the leaves, which apart from having a purple color remain all year round as they are perennial. It is very easy to grow and they are used as cover plants in groups with other plants to establish some contrast in sight.
It also helps create colored spots on the lawn and are interesting to use in planters. They are used both to place them on terraces, balconies, patios or even indoors. If it is true that indoors it will need some extra care since it is a plant that mainly needs exposure to full sun.
In order to take good care of this plant we need to know some important aspects. The first thing is what we have mentioned above: it needs sun exposure. It can live in semi shade but it is not the most suitable. You do not want the temperatures to drop below 15 degrees, so it does not support frost well. It is convenient to protect them if our garden is usually attacked by frost. We will not have this problem if we have it as an indoor plant.
As for the soil, it needs a soil with some content of organic matter and with a soft texture. Drainage is a must. We cannot let neither the irrigation water nor the rainwater hit the ground or it will rot the plant. If we want to sow Alternanthera phycoideathe best time is in spring. This is because the risk of possible frost is over.
We must water regularly during the spring and summer season. The indicator for watering again is for the soil to dry out completely between waterings. When it comes to watering, we must not puddle the soil. In winter, due to rainfall and low temperatures, hardly any water is needed. Although it is not totally necessary, this plant appreciates a fertilizer with mineral fertilizer during the spring time. It should be paid every 15 days with a little organic matter until the fall season arrives.
Although it is a plant that does not need another, it is convenient to pinch the tips of the plants to give it a more compact appearance. It is important that watering is not too frequent or intense as it can cause the plant to be attacked by fungal diseases. It can be easily multiplied by cuttings.
Features Alternanthera reineckii
Now we go on to describe another of the important plants within the genus Alternanthera. This plant comes from southern Brazil and Paraguay and grows as an emerged plant. It is adapted to survive on water. It can be easily grown underwater for fish tank decoration.
They have oval-shaped petioleless leaves. It has leaves about 3.5 centimeters long and 1.5 centimeters wide. The upper part of the leaves is green and the lower part is pink to red. They are quite interesting plants to decorate aquariums since they have a fibrous root system that grows prolifically. These roots also help decorate the aquarium. During the summer season, they develop different flowers with colors between green, yellow and pink.
If the aquarium is not deep, the plant will quickly come out of the water as it grows vertically. The shoots usually emerge to adapt to growth and if you put them back under water they will shed their leaves.
Care and maintenance
The Alternanthera reineckii They need some care so that they can survive well in your aquarium. It is usually planted on the sides of the aquarium and should not get too thick. The stems grow perpendicularly until they quickly reach the surface of the water. The leaves that will be under the water are no longer necessary and the plant will eliminate them. To prevent this from happening you will need to cut off the top of the stem before it stuck out of the water. This way we can keep the underwater leaves and allow the stem to continue branching to form a small bush inside the aquarium.
It has a fairly high growth rate, between about 10 and 15 centimeters in a month. The ideal temperature of the aquarium for the plant to develop good conditions should be between 24 and 28 degrees. Below 20 degrees is not ideal as its growth will slow down. The plant requires a constant renewal of water as it will grow slower in old water.
Regarding lighting, Alternanthera reineckii needs very bright lighting in the aquarium. Direct sunlight is very good for the good growth of this plant. If we want the plant to grow faster we can use a mineral fertilizer. During this time you will get enough nitrogenous organic matter and mineral nutrients. It is important to add iron and potassium to the aquarium water.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the main plants of the genus Alternanthera.