Gardening Magazine

Hemigraphis Alternata

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Hemigraphis alternata (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Hemigraphis alternata (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Bright indirect light

Flowering period: Early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 15cm

Eventual Spread: 90cm

Hardiness: 10a, 10b, 11

Family: Acanthaceae

Hemigraphis alternata is an evergreen perennial with a spreading, groundcover habit. Its purple to grey/ green/ purple leaves are ovate with crenate margins, up to 7cm long and 4cm across. Its leaf color varies depending on the light this plant receives. Its white flowers are small and appear terminally.

Hemigraphis alternata Leaf (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Hemigraphis alternata Leaf (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Hemigraphis alternata, commonly known as Metallic Plant, Waffle Plant, Purple Waffle Plant or Red Flame Ivy, is native to Indonesia and India. In its native habitat it grows as a tropical woodland understory plant. It is considered as an environmental weed in parts of tropical Australia.

The etymological root of the binomial name Hemigraphis is derived from the Greek hmi meaning ‘half’ and grafis menaing ‘stilus’. Alternata is derived from the Latin alternus meaning ‘alternate’.

The landscape architect may find Hemigraphis alternata useful as a low growing evergreen foliage houseplant. This plant may also be planted in hanging baskets and allowed to trail downwards.

Ecologically, Hemigraphis alternata is attractive to some pollinating insects.

Hemigraphis alternata Flower (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Hemigraphis alternata Flower (16/01/2016, Kew Gardens, London)

Hemigraphis alternata prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil, although it prefers a slightly acidic pH.

When maintaining  Hemigraphis alternata as a houseplant its soil should be watered regularly, but never wet. Watering should be reduced during the winter months. Its preferred active growing temperature rages from between 16ºc to 24ºc. Feeding with weak fertiliser solution should be carried out once a month during the growing season. This plant may be misted with water to improve its humidity.

DAVIS Landscape Architecture

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