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How to Grow Love-Lies-Bleeding — Amaranthus

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Love-lies-bleeding, Amaranthus, is a heavy-looking plant with brilliant cascading flowers. The ropey, tassel-like flowers fall from the top of the plant. Blossoms last as long as 8 weeks. Love-lies-bleeding is easy to grow.

The poorer the soil the more brilliant the foliage of amaranthus; soil too fertile will result in disappointing foliage.

Amaranthus grows readily from seed and prefers a sunny spot in the garden. They can be started in mid to late spring and require considerable space; they should be thinned or transplanted to stand 18 to 24 inches apart.

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 Love-Lies-Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus
Love-Lies-Bleeding, Amaranthus caudatus

Get to know Amaranthus

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Growing Zones and range: 2-11
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Height and width: 3 to 5 feet (90-150cm) tall; 2 feet (60cm) wide
  • Form: Branched stems with large, oval, pale green leaves.
  • Flower form and color: Long cascading clusters of tight-packed red, golden, and deep purple-red blossoms
  • Colors: Brilliant colored foliage ranges from chocolate brown to crimson, bright green gold
  • Bloom time: Spring in warm climates; midsummer in cool climates.
  • Uses: Accent in flower beds and borders; cutting garden
  • Common name: Love-lies-bleeding and Joseph’s Coat
  • Botanical name: Amaranthus caudatus and Amaranthus tricolor
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Origin: Temperate and tropical regions worldwide

Where to plant Amaranthus

  • Plant Amaranthus in full sun in Zones 6-7 and the Pacific Northwest; plant in partial shade in Zones 8-11.
  • Plant Amaranthus in humus-rich to average, well-drained soil.

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Amaranthus uses

  • Amaranthus is a good choice for backgrounds and borders.
  • Use as a point of interest–commands attention from midsummer until frost.
  • Picked when young and tender, the leaves and stems of some species can be cooked like spinach.

When to plant Amaranthus

  • Sow seed in early summer when soil is at least 70°F (21°C) for germination.
  • Set established seedlings in the garden in spring after all danger of frost has passed.
  • Sow seed indoors about six weeks before the last frost or in the garden when nighttime temperatures are 50°F (10°C).
Amaranthus caudatus flowers, also known as love-lies-bleeding

Planting and spacing Amaranthus

  • Space Amaranthus 18 inches (45cm) apart.

How to water and feed Amaranthus

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Side dress plant with aged compost or slow-release all-purpose fertilizer early and at mid-season.
Amaranthus
Amaranthus

Amaranthus care

  • Mulch around plants to keep soil evenly moist.
  • Side-dress plants with aged compost or slow-release fertilizer when flowering starts.
  • Stake tall plants.

Amaranthus pests and diseases

  • Amaranthus is susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and the aster yellow virus.

Amaranthus propagation

  • Sow Amaranthus seed outdoors in full sun or part shade after the soil has warmed in spring.
  • Germination usually takes 14 to 21 days.

Amaranthus varieties to grow

  • Amaranthus caudatus. Love-Lies-Bleeding. Erect or cascading plant; spikes of green or shades of red tassel flower: 3 to 8 feet tall; red flowers, drooping tassel clusters; produces grain.
  • ‘Virdis’ has green flower clusters.
  • ‘Pygmy Torch’ has crimson clusters above purplish leaves.
  • Amaranthus tricolor ‘Joseph’s Coat’ grows 1 to 4 feet tall; boldly colored foliage green leaf strains are used as a spinach substitute.

Amaranthus frequently asked questions

Q: My amaranthus does not have brightly colored foliage. Why?

A: Amaranthus foliage will lose much of its color if the soil is too rich. Do not fertilize amaranthus in spring. It will be the most colorful when the soil is dry and the temperatures are very warm.

Q: When is the best time to plant amaranthus–love-lie-bleeding?

A: You can start amaranthus indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost for transplanting out into the garden after the last frost. Amaranthus is half-hardy.

Q: What conditions does amaranthus grow best in?

A: Amaranthus will grow in just about any soil. It wants a sheltered position in full sun.

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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