Amaranthus

Height: 60cm-1.5m (2-5ft)

Planting distance: 30-90cm (1 -3ft)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: varies according to species

Site: full sun

Type: half-hardy annual

These tall, dramatic plants, some with long drooping flower tassels, look good as a focal point in formal bedding schemes. Their green leaves make a refreshing contrast to the flowers until late summer, when they turn a deep bronze, adding to the impact.

Popular species and varieties:

Amaranthus caudatus ‘Crimson’, or love-lies-bleeding, is the most popular variety. Its 45cm (I 8in) long plumes of blood-red flowers appear from late summer to mid autumn on 75cm (30in) high plants. Space the plants 45cm (I 8 in) apart. The variety ‘Viridis’ has pale green flowers and is attractive in fresh or dried flower arrangements. A. hypochondriasis, or prince’s feather, has erect plumes of bright red flowers 15cm (6in) long. These last from mid summer to mid autumn. The plants reach 75cm (30in) high and have bronze-tinted leaves. Space the plants 90cm (3ft)

Amaranthus caudatus ‘Crimson include ‘Flaming Fountain’, with crimson, willow-like leaves; ‘Illumination’, with scarlet, orange, yellow, green and bronze leaves all on one plant; and ‘Joseph’s Coat’, a vigorous variety with cream, scarlet and green foliage.

Cultivation

Sow under glass in early spring at a steady temperature of 15°C (59°F). Prick off the seedlings into pots, and harden off in a frame, before planting outdoors in late spring. Seeds can be sown directly in the flowering site in mid spring, then thinned out to the required planting distance.

A. caudatiis and its varieties will grow in poor soil but the other species and their varieties prefer soil enriched with manure. All need a sunny location.

Pests and diseases: Aphids sometimes infest the plants.

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