Amaranthus cruentus 'Velvet Curtains' provides intense crimson foliage and inflorescence. The dramatic plants with large plumes of flowers, ideal for a sunny, sheltered border. Flower heads will turn to seed and retain their colour for a long season of interest.
The branching plumes stand upright and grow to a height of around 120cm (48in) tall. It is easily grown in even poor soil and can handle a variety of conditions, both humid and dry.
Suitable for use in the border or in containers, the showy spikes of flowers make an excellent cut flower and make exciting vase material that hold their colour longer than other amaranths, making it great for flower arrangements. The larger first cuts are perfect for large installation work, and multiple secondary cuts are perfect for bouquets. They will last 7 to 10 days in a vase.
This ever-popular annual is perhaps more versatile than you might imagine. The plants are good in the border and the tall panicles are most effective as a cut flower in arrangements, and, not often appreciated, if carefully dried, the colour of the spikes remains unchanged for a considerable time.
For those, however, with more serious matters to worry about, this is a very productive plant that can produce up to half a pound of nutritious seed to the square metre. While it is no longer a staple food, Amaranth seed is still grown and sold as a health food. The leaves are rich in Vitamin C and iron with a taste rather like spinach, and the gluten-free seeds have a nutty flavour are high in protein and calcium.
The seeds can be eaten as a cereal grain, ground into flour, popped like popcorn or cooked into porridge. Use it to replace up to ¼ of the flour in any bread recipe for a protein-rich, gluten-free enhancement. They have 30 per cent more protein value than rice, wheat flour, oats and rye, and is perfect for vegetarians and vegans, so it may well become an essential crop of the future.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Amaranthus cruentus 'Velvet Curtains' has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) for reliability and good performance.
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. Amaranthus tend to sulk in cool summers and cloudy skies, they will tolerate some shade but should receive sun for 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. The larger first cuts are perfect for large installation work, and multiple secondary cuts are perfect for bouquets. 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 grows quickly from seed and well grown plants should produce large inflorescence. 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, Wildlife and Wildflower gardens.
Both the leaves and seeds are edible, and this plant is highly nutritious. This species was in use as a food source as early as 4000 BC. In France the leaves are still used in the same way as spinach, they are rich in Vitamin C and iron, and have a taste rather like spinach.
The gluten-free seeds have a nutty flavour are high in protein and calcium. They have 30 per cent more protein value than rice, wheat flour, oats and rye, perfect for vegetarians and vegans.
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 of 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 (cauda'tum/cauda'tus) meaning 'with a tail', referring to the shape of the inflorescence.
Amaranthus is known by many names one of the most popular flowering varieties is ‘Love Lies Bleeding’. Others include: Drooping Amaranthus, Prince's Feather, Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate, Purple Amaranth, Foxtail Amaranth, Tassel Amaranth, Tassel Flower, Teasel flower.
For edible use its names include amaranth, Caribbean spinach, Inca wheat, Chinese amaranth, callaloo, tampala and Chinese spinach.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 250mg Average Seed Count 350 Seeds Family Amaranthaceae Genus Amaranthus Species cruentus Cultivar Velvet Curtains Synonym Amaranthus hybridus subsp. cruentus Common Name Foxtail Amaranthus, Everlasting Flower Other Common Names Prince's Feather Flowers Ontense crimson foliage and inflorescence. Natural Flower Time June to October. Height 120cm (48in) 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)