Amaranth flowers: Tall and Spiky or Cascading From Your Arrangement
Amaranthus and A. cruentus
Amaranth flowers form tiny seeds that can be used as a grain, its young foliage and stems can be used as a green, raw or cooked, and there are many species of amaranth that are common weeds.
But two varieties have been bred to offer flowers in dramatic shapes and colors.
A. caudatus forms rope-like flower stems that cascade out of a bouquet. They come in bright dark pink, pale pink, soft coral, and pale green.
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A. cruentus forms upright clusters usually in a spiky cluster, adding a strong vertical element to a bouquet. These come in dark reds, dark pinks, and pale green.
They’re both big, fast growers that add drama to mid to late summer flower bouquets. They love sun and heat.
And you can eat the seeds and the greens and stems.
Amaranth plants and flowers
Amaranth is an annual that grows 3-6 ft. tall, and sometimes up to 8 ft.
They grow fast in the heat. If you have way too many plants started, you can harvest the tender young foliage and even the stems for salad greens or a sauté.
There are two forms of flower clusters: trailing and spike. The colors for the trailing types are bright, dark pink,
There are many, many tiny flowers packed around the flower stem. Their buds and petals are almost indistinguishable, making it hard to tell how open they are.
But you can tell when they’re opening by the pollen dropping from them. So beware, they can get messy with pollen on your table. And soon after, it’s seeds start dropping.
They’re ok for drying. But I don’t like to use them. The seeds in the dried flowers attract mice… I don’t want to bring them into my garage or house.
How to grow amaranth
Full sun; average to good garden soil, average water. Sow seeds directly into the garden bed or start a little earlier in seed flats or pots. Plant out only after all danger of frost is passed.
60-75 days to maturity.
I have never needed to stake these plants; they grow upright and strong.
How to harvest the flowers
Harvest when about ¾ of the flowers have opened—which can be hard to tell. What I look for is when the flower stems are thick and plump, and after the pollen has dropped out of them but before the seeds are forming. It’s a close call and easy to miss. (Err on the side of later, I think dropping seeds are better than pollen.)
I like the dark red-pink ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ the best, it has the best formation of the flower clusters along the stem, looking like tassels made of a series of balls.
And for the green trailing type, ‘Viridis’ is my favorite.
The other I like is the ‘Hopi Red Spike’, an upright arrangement that makes a stunning bouquet filler.
Sources for amaranth seeds
Check your local nursery first, because these flowers have become popular enough to be sold in most places. If you can’t find them locally, here are good sources:
Botanical Interests: they have a good assortment of different varieties
Renee’s Seeds: Love lies bleeding and A. tricolor (see more in Special Info below)
Johnny’s Seeds: they have an excellent collection of varieties for cut flowers
Special Info on amaranth flowers
There is a different species of amaranth, A. tricolor, that’s used as an ornamental foliage plant. There are varieties with striking multi-colored foliage. Nice for a summer flower bed (if you don’t have deer).
Flowers that bloom at the same time as amaranth
This perennial flower yields long-stemmed yellow flowers that last very well in the vase.
Tall perennial flower that produces many yellow flowers that last well in the vase.
Tall sunflowers and tall amaranth are naturals together, and they bloom at the same time.