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Amaranthus

Martha Stewart Living Television
As one of its common names, “love-lies-bleeding,” suggests, Amaranthus has long been prized for its wonderfully dramatic appearance. As Martha demonstrates today, many of these whimsical botanicals offer an ideal way to celebrate the beauty of fall, whether growing in the garden or encased in striking seasonal arrangements.

An unusual genus comprising about sixty temperate and tropical natives, Amaranthus, commonly known as amaranth, bears its signature chenillelike or velvety spires and attractive foliage from late summer through frost. Plus, these annuals or short-lived perennials are easy to grow from seed: Simply direct-sow right after the last frost in a sunny spot with humus-rich soil. The varieties featured today, which range from 2 to 8 feet tall, were specially grown for Martha Stewart Living by Susan Ziorbran of Hillsdale, New York. Look for amaranth at your local florist; to grow it from seed, try a seed catalog such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Park Seed, Burpee, or Thompson & Morgan.

A. caudatus

Also known as “love-lies-bleeding,” “velvet flower,” and “tassel flower,” this bushy, erect variety bears tassel-like, terminal, and axillary panicles of long, crimson-purple flowers from summer through fall. The most common Amaranthus variety, it is a bold plant that grows to 2 feet, is excellent in areas with long hot summers, and holds its color well, making it perfect for drying.

A. caudatus ’Towers Green’

This cultivar bears unusual masses of long, thick chartreuse flowers with velvety florets on thick columnar spikes. Growing from 3 to 5 feet tall, ‘Towers Green’ blooms from midsummer through fall.

A. caudatus ‘Fat Spike’

Ideal for borders and in arrangements, this cultivar bears highly attractive, fat, erect spikes of deep-purplish-red flowers, tapering from about 3 inches to 1 inch thick.

A. caudatus ‘Hot Biscuits’

With its giant cinnamon-colored plumes, this cultivar is ideal for adding warm, autumnal hues to the garden. It can grow from 5 to 6 feet tall and blooms from summer through late fall.

A. caudatus ‘Opopeo’

Named for the Mexican village from which the original seed for this cultivar hailed, ‘Opopeo’ produces colorful spikes of flowers resembling a jester’s hat, as well as striking bronze foliage. It grows from 4 to 6 feet tall.

A. hypochondiracus ‘Green Thumb’

Native to Mexico, India, and China, A. hypochondiracus varieties are commonly known as “prince’s feather.” With its upright spikes of yellow-green flowers, ‘Green Thumb’ is fantastic in arrangements.

A. hypochondiracus ‘Pygmy Torch’

A dwarf variety that reaches 20 to 24 inches, this cultivar bears 8- to 10-inch burgundy plumes and is ideal for the fronts of borders.

Susan Ziorbran

Hillsdale, NY

Amaranthus

Available at local florists

To grow Amaranthus from seed, try the following catalogs:

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Park Seed

Burpee

Thompson & Morgan