A group of robust ornamental plants, that can be grown as hardy annuals in warmer regions or as half-hardy elsewhere. Grown for their brightly coloured foliage and long trailing flower tassels.
Family: Amaranthaceae (amaranth family)
Botanical Name: Amaranthus
Common Names: Love-lies-bleeding, careless, cat tail, tassel flower, prince's feather.
Foliage: Large, long pointed, elliptic or ovate leaves. Pale green or multi coloured (depending on variety).
Flowers: Tiny flowers, borne on upright plumes or long trailing catkin-like tassels. Available in shades of crimson or green.
Flowering Period: Mid-summer into autumn.
Soil: Moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun but will tollerate some shade. Best grown in west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.
Type: Hardy and half-hardy Annuals.
Origin: Asia and Africa
Hardiness: Half-hardy in the UK. Protect from frost.
Grow in a warm sunny position, in a rich, moist but well drained soil. Tolerant of poor soils.
Ideal for sunny beds or borders. Often grown as a centrepiece in a formal bedding.
Popular with flower arrangers. The flowers are long-lasting and can be dried for winter decoration.
Keep weeded and water freely during dry weather.
To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilize.
Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period. Pull up and discard plants in autumn.
Birds love the seed heads, so leave a few spent flowers for them to enjoy.
Susceptible to attack by Aphids. Generally disease free.
Sow seed under glass in early spring and keep at a temperature of 15°C (59°F). Prick out, pot on, and harden off before planting out in late spring.
The seed can also be direct-sown in late spring. Sow in a prepared seed bed where the plants are to flower. Thin out as necessary.
Amaranthus caudatus (love-lies-bleeding) a popular garden species producing 18in (45cm) long tassels of blood-red flowers. Height 3 to 4ft (90cm-120cm). Seeds available at Crocus. Varieties include:
Amaranthus paniculatus (A. hypochondriachus, A. cruentus) (prince's feather, red amaranth) usually available with bronze-tinted or red leaves, bearing erect plumes of bright red or green flowers. Height 4 to 5ft (120cm - 150cm). Good varieties include:
Amaranthus tricolor (Joseph's coat, tampala) has spectacular scarlet oval-shaped leaf clusters, appearing above the normal green leaves. Height from 2 to 3ft (60-90cm). Good varieties include: