- Common name: Amaranthus
- Type: Perennial
- Height and spread: 1 x 0.45 m
- Soil: Fertile well drained soil
- Aspect: Full sun
- Hardiness: Half hardy annual, not frost hardy
- Care: Easy
Grown for their dense panicles of tiny flowers which form exotic clusters of brightly coloured plumes, or for its colourful foliage.
Want to find it at Reveley? Look in the long border at the end of the main lawn for ‘Coral Fountain’.
Originating from the American tropics, Amaranthus are vigorous annuals. The main species being A. caudatus which produces long dangling tassels such as in the variety ‘Love Lies Bleeding’, A. hypochondriacus produces the sturdier and more upright flower plumes as seen in the variety ‘Pygmy Torch’. A. tricolor produces plants with a range of brilliant leaf colours similar to that of coleus. The colour range across the genus goes from light green as in Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis’ through pink, brown, orange and deep purple depending on variety.
Amaranthus are best used in pots or in bedding displays, give them room to show off their long dangling tassels which can grow up to 60 cm in a season. Amaranthus also make excellent cut flowers their tactile blooms adding a wow factor to any arrangement, alternatively dry the flowers for use in winter arrangements.
Amaranthus was a staple food of the Aztecs and Incas and the plants are still cultivated today as a food source in South America, Africa, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet. In Mexico the seeds are toasted like popcorn and mixed with honey for the sweet treat dulce de alegria (Amaranth Bars).
To grow Amaranthus, sow seed in early spring under glass or directly outdoors in their flowering position in well drained fertile soil. The seeds for the more common varieties such as ‘Love lies Bleeding’ and ‘Viridis’ are easily available from most garden centres, or for something a little different look online for a specialist producer.
Amaranthus are easy to grow and raise from seed, although aphids can be a problem, so check regularly and treat.
In the language of flowers ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ stood for hopeless lover or hopelessness in the Victorian era. A little bit unfair for such a dramatic and exotic looking flower, don’t you think?