Amaranthus is a genus of flowering plants that includes over 60 species, some of which are cultivated as ornamental plants, leaf vegetables, grains, or pseudocereals. Amaranthus flowers are colorful and can be grown in containers or garden beds. They are also drought-tolerant and heat-resistant, making them ideal for summer gardens. In this blog post, we will show you how to plant amaranthus flower seeds and care for them.
About Amaranthus Plant
Amaranthus plants are annuals or short-lived perennials that grow from 30 cm to 2.5 m tall, depending on the species and variety. They have green or reddish stems and leaves that can be simple or lobed. The flowers are small and clustered in dense spikes or panicles that can be upright or drooping. The flowers can be red, pink, purple, yellow, green, or white. The seeds are tiny and round and can be black, brown, or golden.
Some of the most popular amaranthus species and varieties for ornamental purposes are:
- Amaranthus caudatus: Also known as love-lies-bleeding, this species has long, drooping spikes of red or green flowers that resemble tassels. It can grow up to 1.5 m tall and 60 cm wide.
- Amaranthus cruentus: Also known as prince’s feather, this species has erect spikes of red or purple flowers that can reach up to 1 m long. It can grow up to 2 m tall and 90 cm wide.
- Amaranthus hypochondriacus: Also known as prince-of-wales feather, this species has erect spikes of red or green flowers that can reach up to 60 cm long. It can grow up to 1.5 m tall and 60 cm wide.
- Amaranthus tricolor: Also known as Joseph’s coat, this species has colorful leaves that can be green, red, yellow, or variegated. It can grow up to 1 m tall and 60 cm wide.
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How to Plant Amaranth Seedlings
Amaranthus flower seeds are easy to germinate and can be sown directly in the garden or in containers after the last frost date in spring. You can also start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date for an earlier bloom.
To sow amaranthus flower seeds directly in the garden or containers:
- Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
- Loosen the soil and remove any weeds or debris.
- Scatter the seeds thinly over the soil surface and lightly cover them with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite.
- Water gently and keep the soil moist but not soggy until germination, which usually takes 10 to 14 days.
- Thin out the seedlings to about 30 to 60 cm apart when they are about 10 cm tall.
To start amaranthus flower seeds indoors:
- Fill a seed tray or small pots with a good quality seed-starting mix that is moist but not wet.
- Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface of the mix and lightly press them into the mix.
- Cover the tray or pots with a clear plastic lid or wrap to create a mini greenhouse effect and maintain humidity.
- Place the tray or pots in a warm location with bright indirect light and keep the mix moist but not soggy until germination, which usually takes 10 to 14 days.
- Remove the plastic cover once the seeds germinate and move the tray or pots to a sunny window sill or under artificial lights.
- Transplant the seedlings to larger pots when they have two sets of true leaves and harden them off before planting them outdoors after the last frost date.
Best Soil & Container For Amaranthus Flowers
Amaranthus flowers prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and has a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. You can improve your soil by adding compost, manure, or other organic amendments before planting.
If you are growing amaranthus flowers in containers, choose a large pot with drainage holes. It should be large enough to accommodate the plant’s height and spread, which can vary from 18 inches to 6 feet depending on the variety. It should be made of a material that can withstand temperature changes and sun exposure, such as terracotta, ceramic, or metal.
Temperature & Light Requirements For Amaranthus Flowers
Amaranthus flowers prefer full sun exposure. They can tolerate some shade, but they will produce fewer blooms and may become leggy. To ensure optimal growth and flowering, plant amaranthus seeds or seedlings in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
Amaranthus flowers prefer a soil temperature of at least 18°C (65°F) for germination and a minimum of 21°C (70°F) for optimal growth. They can tolerate some drought and heat stress, but they will perform better if watered regularly and mulched to conserve soil moisture. Amaranthus flowers do not tolerate frost, so they should be planted after the last frost date in your area or started indoors and transplanted later.
Common Pests & Diseases for Amaranthus Flowers
- Aphids: These are small, soft-bodied insects that suck the sap from the leaves and stems of amaranthus plants. They can cause yellowing, curling, wilting, and distortion of the foliage. They can also transmit viral diseases to plants. To control aphids, spray the plants with a strong jet of water or use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- Leafminers: These are the larvae of small flies that feed on the tissue between the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. They create winding tunnels or blotches on the leaves that reduce the photosynthesis and aesthetic value of the plants. To control leafminers, remove and destroy the infested leaves or use a systemic insecticide.
- Powdery mildew: This is a fungal disease that causes a white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems of amaranthus plants. It can reduce the vigor and flowering of the plants and make them more prone to other diseases. To prevent powdery mildew, avoid overhead watering and provide good air circulation around the plants. To treat powdery mildew, use a fungicide or a homemade solution of baking soda and water.
- Root rot: This is a fungal disease that affects the roots and lower stems of amaranthus plants. It can cause wilting, yellowing, stunting, and death of the plants. It is more common in poorly drained or overwatered soils. To prevent root rot, plant amaranthus in well-drained soil and water only when the soil is dry. To treat root rot, remove and discard the infected plants and apply a fungicide to the soil.
When is amaranth ready to harvest?
Amaranth leaves can be harvested at any stage of growth, but they are most tender and flavorful when young. You can start harvesting leaves when the plants are about 6 inches tall, and continue until they start to flower. Amaranth seeds are ready to harvest when they are dry and easily fall off the flower heads.
Are amaranth flowers edible?
Yes, amaranth flowers are edible and can be used as a garnish or added to salads, soups, stews, and other dishes. They have a mild and nutty flavor and a crunchy texture.
How long does amaranth take to germinate?
Amaranth seeds usually germinate within 7 to 14 days after sowing, depending on the soil temperature and moisture.
Does amaranth self seed?
Yes, amaranth can self seed if you let the seeds mature and drop on the ground. However, this may not be desirable if you want to control the spread of the plant or avoid cross-pollination with other varieties. To prevent self seeding, you can cut off the flower heads before they set seeds or collect the seeds for future use.
When to harvest amaranth flowers?
Amaranth flowers can be harvested at any time during their blooming period, which usually lasts from midsummer to fall. However, the best time to harvest them is when they are fully open and vibrant in color.
How are amaranth seeds dispersed?
Amaranth seeds are dispersed by wind, water, animals, and humans. The seeds have a small hook-like structure that helps them attach to fur, feathers, clothing, or other surfaces. They can also float on water or be carried by air currents. Some animals may eat the seeds and excrete them in different locations.
Will amaranth grow in shade?
Amaranth prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. However, too much shade may reduce the growth and yield of the plant. Amaranth needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal performance.
How long are amaranth seeds viable?
Amaranth seeds can remain viable for up to 4 years if stored properly. The best way to store amaranth seeds is to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place in an airtight container. You can also freeze the seeds for longer storage.
Does amaranth grow wild?
Yes, amaranth grows wild in many parts of the world, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. It is considered a weed in some areas where it competes with crops or invades natural habitats.