Do you want to add some drama to your life? Or at least your garden! Then I would highly recommend Amaranthus Red! Just look at those tassels.
This was a real eye-opener for me in 2023 I just wasn’t sure about it, I’d tried growing it once previously but not very well and it just didn’t thrive but I don’t think I gave it the space it deserves. I thought I would try it again and see how I did and I have to say my opinion has been completely changed. What a stunner this plant is.
They look very exotic but are actually pretty easy to grow from seed, you can direct sow once the risk of frosts have passed. But I sowed mine undercover in my unheated greenhouse in mid March as I just prefer to get them going indoors and grow them on before I plant them out. They are small orange seeds and its best to sow them thinly on the surface of a good peat-free seed compost. Only lightly cover the seeds as they germinate better with a bit of light. I potted them on in mid April and planted them in the garden at the end of May. I planted them at the end of one of my raised beds and also probably a bit close together as I completely underestimated how big they would get but they did fine. The general advice is to plant them about 50cm apart. I had to stake them and tie them in a couple of times as they grew into big chunky plants. The first flowers started forming in early July and then they really took off. I watered them initially but then I found they were pretty self-sufficient. Its recommended to give them a pinch out (where you remove the top growth of a plant just above a leaf node) to encourage branching out and this can reduce the size of the flowers to make them a bit more manageable size in a vase. I was picking them for cut flowers from the end of July and they were still looking good in the garden till the end of October. What great value.
I was a bit nervous initially about using them as a cut flower but once I realised how great they look draped volumptuously over the edge of a vase then that was it. They have quite a lot of foliage on so this is best to be mostly removed I think. They are quite a bright red too which can be a bit tricky to combine with many flowers but I’ve found that they look great with some of the bright dahlias, the purples of Verbena, Origanums, the pink Cosmos and even sunflowers. They need some big focal flowers so stand out with it. These flowers are just calling out for a big sumptuous display.
Here it is in a floral arrangement with Ammi visnaga, Origanum ‘Rosenkuppel’ and Dahlias ‘Barcardi’ and ‘Arabian Night’.
I was also surprised to see it going well with a very pale lemon sunflower, Helianthis ‘Valentine’.
Also with Sedum foliage, Ammi visnaga, Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ and Eupatorium ‘Riesenschirm’.
Next year I’m going to try the green form Amaranthus caudatus var. viridis and there is one called ‘Coral Fountain’ which is a bit more of a dusky red that looks very tempting. There are also some amazing more upright forms, Amaranthus cruentus including a cultivar called ‘Hot Biscuits’ which is a rich sandy brown colour that I think would look amazing in autumnal displays.
I would like to have a go at drying it, you just have to keep them out of direct sunlight for them to keep their colour.