An easy-to-grow annual with a big garden presence, amaranthus is tricky to find in the garden center but can be grown from seed. It is commonly called love-lies-bleeding or tassel flower. Amaranthus gets its unusual common name from the ropelike deep magenta flower stalks. The flower stalks emerge midsummer and lengthen until the first frost. The flowers stalks hold their color as they extend 12 inches or more toward the ground.
Another type of amaranthus has the common name Joseph’s coat. Unlike love-lies-bleeding, Joseph’s coat doesn’t produce ropes of flowers. Instead, Joseph’s coat is prized for its colorful foliage. Its brightly colored leaves come in shades of red, orange, and green—or all of the above when it comes to tricolor amaranthus!
- 1 to 3 feet,
- 3 to 8 feet
- 1-3 feet wide, depending on type
Great Garden Conditions
Call on amaranthus to add interest to containers and garden beds. Plants grow 2-8 feet tall and spread 1-3 feet wide, depending on the type. Be sure to give them plenty of space to expand as the season progresses. The plants will take off and grow quickly as soon as daytime temperatures regularly reach 70 degrees F.
For a bold display of color and texture, plant amaranthus with cannas, celosia, and annual salvia. Or add it to a large container with calibrachoa, employing it as a focal point. Amaranthus thrives in the sun and is a great planting solution for full-sun locations that need a big pop of color. Even though this plant loves to soak up the sun, it doesn't tolerate drought so plant it where you can easily water it.
If you are unable to find amaranthus at the garden center as a transplant, start it from seed inside about 8 weeks before the last frost. After the chance of frost has passed, plant it outside in full sun in moist, well-drained soil. Bright sunlight is essential for this plant to thrive; it will produce fewer flowers and weak stems when planted in shade.
Love-lies-bleeding amaranthus often needs staking when its long flower stalks develop. Sink a 4-foot-tall stake into the soil near the base of the plant at planting time. As the plant grows, loosely tie its stem to the stake. Joseph's coat amaranthus usually stands boldly upright on its own.
Snip and Dry
Love-lies-bleeding is an everlasting flower. Its flowers turn a warm shade of bronze after the stems dry. To harvest stems for drying, cut young, fresh flower stalks. Tie two or three stems together and hang them in a dark, airy, dry place. The stems will dry in about one month and can be added to dried-flower arrangements.
'Fat Spike' has thick ropes of deep red-purple flowers above green foliage and grow 3-4 feet tall. 'Viridis' has electric green flower stalks on 3- to 4-foot-tall plants. 'Golden Giant' has yellow flower stalks that can grow 6-8 feet tall, making it one of the tallest varieties. Search reputable online retailers for more unique varieties of bold summer annuals.
More Varieties of Amaranthus
Amaranthus caudatus bears rich red flowers that dangle dramatically from the 5-foot-tall plant. Zones 2-11
Plant Amaranthus With:
There are few flowers as showy as celosia. Whether you plant the plumed type, which produces striking upright spires, or the crested type, which has a fascinating twisted form, you'll love using celosia in bouquets. The flowers are beautiful fresh, but they also dry well. They bloom in all the colors of a glowing sunset. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Celosia likes rich, well-drained soil with moderate water. Spider mites can sometimes be a problem in hot, dry weather. Shown above: New Look celosia
Attract butterflies and have fun doing it with big, bold, beautiful Mexican sunflower. Sow seeds directly in the ground and watch it soar. It can hit up to 5 feet in just weeks with big, lush foliage and small but showy flowers in sunset colors that butterflies love. Put a cluster of these bodacious beauties in the back of the border to give it height and drama. Many of the taller types need staking to keep them upright. Plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
Big, beautiful, and old-fashioned, sunflowers suit most gardens. Plant breeders have been hard at work producing a wide variety, from those that grow 12 feet tall to compact selections that stand only 3 feet. The color range is wide, too, with almost every shade of yellow, orange, and red.