Amaranthus caudatus is the hanging or drooping amaranthus, the deep red variety also known as Love-Lies-Bleeding.
Well-grown plants are spectacular bushy half-hardy annuals with large, almost tropical leaves, over and through which the familiar tassels cascade to the ground. Each of these fascinating crimson or purple tassels is a colony of tightly packed, tiny flowers and lasts for many weeks on the plant.
Watering plants well in dry weather, feeding regularly and supporting the heavily laden stems if necessary, all help to produce the longest tassels. With neglect it will flower when only a very few inches high, but with generous treatment, specimens three or four feet or more with enormous drooping tassels of red flowers can be obtained.
This ever-popular annual is perhaps more versatile than you might imagine – good in the border, most effective as a cut flower in arrangements, a good pot-plant and, not often appreciated – if carefully dried, the colour of the spikes remains unchanged for a considerable time.
Sowing: Sow in late spring or early summer.
Amaranthus seeds can be either sown early indoors or directly where they are to flower. They are susceptible to frost so be sure to sow only after the last chance of frost has past and the soil has warmed a little.
Amaranthus prefers high light levels after germination and prefer a sunny situation. They will tolerate some shade but should receive sun half the day or more.
Seeds may be started indoors at around 21°C (70°F) 6 to 8 weeks before it is safe to plant outside, Sow into pots or trays filled with finely sifted compost. Lightly cover seed with soil, and make sure the seedlings have plenty of light and protection from cold. Germination is usually around 10 to 14 days.
Seedlings should be ready to transplant in three to four weeks depending on cell size. The plants grow quickly and each cell will need to be potted on fairly soon to prevent premature flowering. Transplant to 7cm (3in) pots containing sieved compost to grow on Transplant outdoors in late May or early June into moist, well-drained soil, 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) apart.
If sowing directly where they are to flower, prepare the ground well and rake to a fine tilth. If sowing more than one annual in the same bed, mark the sowing areas with a ring of sand and label. Ensure that any weeds are removed, especially during the early stages of growth. In cooler climates they will grow faster under a cloche or plastic tunnel.
Sow in early summer when soil temperatures are above 21°C (70°F). Sow thinly 1mm (¼ in) deep in rows 30cm (12”) apart. Thin out once they have reached 5cm (3in). The seedlings will appear in rows and can be easily told from nearby weed seedlings. Continue to thin the seedlings out so they are finally 30cm (12”) apart by early summer.
Pinch out the centre stem to encourage side branching. Water regularly and fertilise with a water soluble balanced fertiliser. The plants are surprisingly stable for such an apparently top heavy plant, however if grown in an open, more exposed situation, a bit of support will help you to enjoy this plant right through until autumn.
At the end of the season leave a few plants to die down and self seed, others can be pulled up and composted.
The botanical name of Love-Lies-Bleeding derives from Greek and means 'unfading flower'. This is an accurate description as the flowers are very long lasting cut flowers and they can be easily dried to extend the amount of time that you get to enjoy them.
For fresh flower arrangements, cut amaranths when three quarters of the flowers are open on the stem. They will last 7 to 10 days in a vase. If you want to dry them, harvest when the seed begin to set and the flowers are firm to the touch. Cut and hang upside down for at least 10 days preferably in a warm position. High heat during the drying process allows the flowers to better retain their colour.
Amaranthus caudatus grows quickly from seed and well grown plants should produced tassels as long as your arm. By the end of summer the flowers will be full of seeds. Hold a container under the flowers and massage the flower heads to collect the seeds. The seeds will pour out providing you with more than you could possibly use. Store in a cool, dry place until you next require them.
Cottage/Informal Gardens or Flowers Borders and Beds. Container planting.
Amaranthus leaves may be eaten as a salad vegetable. In Africa, it is usually cooked as a leafy vegetable. Some gardeners prune larger plants for their tender leaves and tips. Others prefer to time plantings two weeks apart and pull up the young tender plants to eat.
Amaranthus is a broad genus of about 60 species of short-lived herbs that breed mostly in the temperate and tropical regions. It primarily serves as an annual ornamental, and its leaves and seeds are edible with nutritional properties. Members of the genus Amaranthus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related Celosia genus.
The genus name Amaranthus originally comes from the Greek word Auapavboc meaning "one that does not wither" or 'unfading'. The European translation comes from the word amaranton, Nicander’s name for the ‘everlasting’ flowers.
The original spelling is amarant; the more common spelling amaranth seems to have come from a folk etymology assuming that the final syllable derives from the Greek word anthos (meaning 'flower'), common in botanical names.
The species name caudatus comes from the Latin cauda'ta (caudatum) meaning 'with a tail', referring to the shape of the inflorescence.
Common names include: Drooping Amaranthus, Prince's Feather, Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, Purple Amaranth, Foxtail Amaranth, Tassel Amaranth, Tassel Flower, Teasel flower.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 3,750 seeds Family Amaranthaceae Genus Amaranthus Species caudatus Synonym Amaranthus edulis Common Name Love Lies Bleeding Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Flowers Reddish Purple. Late June, through October Height 90 to 120cm (36 to 46in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Position Partial Shade to Full Sun Soil Well-drained/light soil Germination 4 to 10 days at 22°C (70°F)