A Coat of Many Colors

Sometimes the most wonderful things about plants, aside their visual appearance and stunning contribution to the landscape, are their names or even history. Take for instance the Armanthus tricolor whose common names include “fountain plant”, “love-lies-bleeding”, and “Joseph’s Coat”. Can you imagine, even for a brief moment, the facial expression of a potential resident or tenant when you are walking through the property, point to a plant, and throw out a random fact such as “Oh, that is Joseph’s Coat”.?

A hardy annual in the Armaranthaceae family, Joseph’s Coat is an exquisite specimen that boasts rich foliage in colors of reds and yellows. Reaching heights between 1 and 4 feet, Joseph’s Coat is a striking addition to edgings, borders, or grouped as a mass planting in areas receiving full sun exposure. Spreading out 1 to 2 feet, this fast growing annual produces leaves that are up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide.

Native to South America, the Armanthus tricolor is often grown in other countries as an edible. In Florida, being treated primarily as an ornamental, the Armanthus tricolor can be grown in a mixture of soils from clay to loam provided it is well drained, and prefers not to be exposed to fertilizers as it mutates its rich, vibrant colors. As with all landscape materials, Joseph’s Coat should be monitored for exposure to aphids, root rots, and fungus.

To learn more about Joseph’s Coat and other cultivars, visit the the fact sheet presented by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences.

Fun fact: It is rumored that Thomas Jefferson sent Francis Eppes, his brother-in-law residing in France, seeds to plant his very own Joseph’s Coat.

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