The common names for the half hardy annual Amaranthus plant include Amaranth, Tampala, Tassel flower, Flaming fountain, Fountain plant, Joseph's coat, Love-lies-bleeding, Molten flower, Prince's feather, and Summer poinsettia.
Latin names include Amaranthus retroflexus, Amaranthus spinosus, Amaranthus hypochondriacus, Amaranthus viridis and Amaranthus caudatus.
They typically flower from summer until the early autumn.
Amaranthus plants are usually large bushy plants that normally grow between 90 and 130 cm in height. Leaves are often long and green but many species can be variegated (eg. Tricolor sp. is red, gold and green, or subspecies Jacob's coat has leaves of red, cream and green), making them attractive in their own right. Amaranths are famed for their colorful grains, these can be in many different colors, especially purple and gold, see pictures).
Amaranthus tricolor photograph by tonrulkens
Amaranthus cruentus photograph by orgazmika.
Grain Amaranth have striking tassels of darkest red or green flowers. They make ideal container plants.
The Amaranthus genus contains around seventy different species, many of which make attractive garden plants. They have many different uses, and in addition to being nice to look at, some species are also used for grains, dyes and as leaf vegetables. As the Greek name that the genus gets its name from, Amarantos, the plant lasts for a long time and is well known for its non fading flowers. Amaranthus originates from the Andes region of South America and has been a staple food crop for over six thousand years.
Amaranthus belongs to the Amaranthaceae plant family; this consists of around 2,500 different species across 150 genera. Some of the plants that are therefore close relatives of Amaranths include Celosia, Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena) Spinach (Spinacia), Alligator weed (Alternanthera), Iresine and Beets (Beta).
Some of the common ornamental species of Amaranthus that are grown in the garden include:
Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding; Tassel Flower)
Amaranthus hypochondriacus (Golden Amaranth; Prince of Wales Feather)
Amaranthus hybridus (Green Amaranth)
Amaranthus powellii (Powell's Amaranth)
Amaranthus blitum (Wild Amaranth; Purple Amaranth; Bride Malabar)
Amaranthus polygonoides (Tropical Amaranth)
Three species that are still commonly grown for grain:
Amaranthus caudatus (Love Lies Bleeding; Tassel Flower)
Amaranthus cruentus (Mexican Grain Amaranth; Red Amaranth, Purple Amaranth; Prince's Feather)
Amaranthus hypochondriacus (Golden Amaranth; Prince's Feather)
Grain species are frequently grown in the mountain regions of Nepal, India, China, Chile, Peru and Mexico.
There are four species that are grown for their vegetative leaf matter; these are largely ate in the South East Asian countries of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines; In Eastern Africa; and in China.
Amaranthus cruentus (Love Lies Bleeding; Tassel Flower)
Amaranthus blitum (Wild Amaranth plant; Purple Amaranth)
Amaranthus dubius (Spleen Amaranth)
Amaranthus tricolor (Joseph's Coat; Green Tassel Flower)
Some of the common names for the greens of Amaranths include Chinese Spinach, Callaloo, Cheera and Khada Saga. They are known to be a rich source of magnesium, calcium and zinc, and are rich in vitamins A, C and K.
Common Names: Amaranth, Tampala, Tassel Flower, Flaming Fountain, Fountain Plant, Joseph's Coat, Love-lies-bleeding, Molten Flower, Prince's Feather, Summer Poinsettia.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual.
Height: 36 to 100 inches (90 to 250 cm).
Native: South America, Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: End of spring, summer and/or early autumn.
Flower Details: Red, purple, pink, orange. Tassels.
Foliage: Purple, red, gold, bronze, green, white. Lanceolate. Variegated. Veined.
Sow Outside: Cover seed. Following the last frost. Spacing 8 to 24 inches (20 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 7. Ordinary soil, not too rich. Regular watering during dry spells.
It is best to sow grain Amaranths just beneath the soil surface, with a spacing of 20 to 30 cm for smaller species and up to 50 cm apart for larger species in the spring, after the last frost. Amaranthus Plants prefer partly shady to full sunlight conditions. The soil type is not overly important, though should have a PH between 6 and 7; for the most vibrant flowers it is best that the soil is not too rich, as this soil type encourages growth.
Amaranthus requires between 10 and 17 days to germinate. If starting off indoors they should be grown at a temperature of between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius in peat pots for seven to eight weeks before planting out after the last frost of spring.
Amaranthus care is easy, they just require frequent watering in the hot and dry months of summer.
Amaranthus Tricolor (Joseph's Coat)
This tall variety can reach heights of over five feet (150 cm), and have a spread of around two feet (60 cm). It is largely grown for its beautiful variegated leaves, as the name suggests these are of three colors; often red, gold and green; or red,cream and green (see picture above). Due to its large size this Amaranthus species is great at the back of a border, though it's beauty means that it can also be grown alone as a specimen plant. The plant can be grown in part shade and full sunlight conditions and flowers from the middle of summer through to the middle of autumn.
Amaranthus caudatus (Tassel flower, Lovelies bleeding)
This plant is grown for both its bright red, purple or gold drooping flowers, and for its red leaves. The plant reaches from three to five feet in height (90 to 150 cm) and can grow in both partially shaded and fully sunlit areas.
Sow seeds directly outdoors after the last frost at a space of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm). It prefers a mildly acidic soil of pH 5.5 to 6.5. Amaranthus caudatus grows well on average soils, and is fairly resistant to drought;, that said it is a good idea to keep the soil moist for best results. Flowering occurs in the summer.
Amaranthus cruentus (Mexican Grain Amaranth; Red Amaranth, Purple Amaranth)
Even by Amaranth standards this species reaches great heights and can grow as high as eight feet (2.5 M). They like to grow in full sunlight and due to there large size should be spaced at about two feet (60 cm) apart. They have wonderful foliage of burgundy or bronze/green, and they flower in the summer with blooms of red, cream or purple. Sow seeds outdoors following the last frost of spring, into an average soil that is slightly acidic, pH 5.5 to 6.5.