This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol2", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
This is one of the most useful and popular carpet-bedding plants. It forms a dense carpet of coloured foliage and may be clipped and pinched without injury during the season to keep it in order. Thousands of cuttings are taken from the old stocks in spring and inserted in sandy soil in pots or shallow boxes, placed in a good hotbed or in cutting frames under glass about February and March. The young plants are potted up or placed in shallow wooden boxes and allowed plenty of light to develop the colour, and harden them off'. Amongst the best kinds are: amabilis, ovate purplish-green leaves changing to brilliant-orange red; the variety latifolia has larger and broader leaves and brighter colours; amoena has narrow lance-shaped leaves of a rich carmine colour; in specta,-bilis the young leaves have a decided magenta shade; magnifica, orange red; tricolor, green at the edges, rose pink in the centre traversed with purple veins, and with a yellow band between the centre and edges. A. paronychioides has the young leaves flushed with scarlet and bronze; major is a stronger form with brighter-tinted foliage, which in the sub-variety aurea is deep yellow and red, and shows up well in hot seasons; nana aurea is a very compact grower with yellow leaves; and versicolor has bright-rose and purple foliage suffused with bronze. The Alter-nantheras are natives of Brazil, and belong to the Amaranthus or Cock's Comb family.