Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Calico Plant
My theory that a plant with many common names has widespread popularity certainly holds true for calico plant (Alternanthera dentata). Sunny garden beds that are kept consistently damp can host many plants, but few are as colorful and diverse as calico plant. Its leaves are not huge, about an inch long, with pointed tips, packed densely on sturdy, deep red stems. They display stunning shades of reddish-purplish-pink with ethereal green overtones unlike any other plant. Calico plant is also known as joy weed, ruby leaf, and Joseph's coat, depending on where it grows. One cultivar, 'Brazilian Red Hots', is so well-known that it, too, has become a common name for this plant. Other varieties to look for: 'Party Time', 'Purple Knight', and 'Royal Tapestry'.

Tool or Gardening Product

Ace 6-in-1 Sharpening Tool
Every gardener needs to keep her tools sharp and this tool makes that task easy to do. Only 7 inches long, this handy tool puts sharpening power in your hands in a neat, small package. It is a carbide file in a rustproof handle with a loop that is easy to grip and hold. Less than $10 at Ace Hardware Stores, this sharpening tool comes with an oil soaked sponge to keep the blade in good working order.

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