Amaranthus is a showy and exotic plant, ideal for beds and borders. Amaranthus are the best accent plants, especially in dried flower arrangements. The long, rope like Amaranthus flowers cascade to the ground from tall, erect branching stems. Amaranthus flowers are breathtaking tassels of the darkest red or green.
Amaranthus is also called as Amaranth, Tampala, Tassel Flower, Flaming Fountain, Fountain Plant, Joseph's Coat, Love-lies-bleeding, Molten Flower, Prince's Feather and Summer Poinsettia. Amaranthus is a broad genus of about 60 species of short-lived herbs that breed mostly in the temperate and tropical regions. Amaranthus also includes the pigweeds, Amaranthus hybridus.
The plant is large and bushy, growing at about 90-130 cm in height. Many Amaranthus species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, cereals, or ornamental plants. It primarily serves as an annual ornamental, and its leaves and seeds are edible with nutritional properties.
Bisexual or unisexual, Amaranthus flowers are typically very small and usually prickly with bristly perianth and bracts. Bracts subtend the flower with two scarious or membranous bractlets . The flower's androecium holds usually 5 stamens located opposite the sepals. Its stamens on the are generally united for part or all of the length into a membranous tube or crown-like structure, sometimes with tiny appendages between the anthers. Leaves on the Amaranthus are alternate, simple, estipulate, and generally whole.
Facts about Amaranthus
- The Aztecs used Amaranthus flowers in several of their ceremonies, making images of their gods (especially Huitzilopochtli) with Amaranth mixed with honey.
- The Aztecs and other Mexicans also used Amaranthus, called huautli, to prepare ritual drinks and foods.
- Amaranthus cultivation reached its height during the Aztec Empire. For the Aztecs, the Amaranthus represented nutritional value, in both therapeutic and the ritual usage.
- Amaranthus was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and is known as the kiwicha in the Andes today.
- To this day, Amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey or molasses to make a treat called alegra, literally joy in Mexican Spanish.
- As Amaranthus was often mixed with blood and used in pagan ceremonies, it was nearly extinct when Christian culture spread in the Americas.
- Amaranthus leaves are oval, 2-4 inches long, starting out green or dark red and changing to bright yellow, orange or florescent pink at the top.
- The foliage of all varieties of Amaranthus is edible, highly nutritious and is described as tasting like spinach.
- The world has recently rediscovered the nutritional properties of Amaranthus.
- Amaranthus is used as edible greens, herbs, and grains in Africa, China, Greece, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet.
- Amaranthus caudatus is most typically known as the Love-Lies-Bleeding plant and serves as a border plant in flower gardens.
- Members of the genus Amaranthus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related Celosia genus.
- Amaranthus prefer partly shady to full sunlight conditions.
- The soil type is not overly important, though it should have a PH between 6 and 7; for the most vibrant Flowers it is best that the soil is not too rich, as this soil type encourages growth.
- Amaranthus should be sowed indoors or outdoors when all the danger of frost has passed.
- Lightly cover the seed with soil, and make sure the seedling has plenty of light and protect from the cold.
- Spacing between the seeds must be 10-14 inches apart.
- Germination is seen in 10-14 days at 70 degrees F.
Amaranthus Plant Care
- Amaranthus is not known to be ethylene sensitive.
- Regular watering is needed
- Maintain soil moisture all season.
- From the start of the growing season, apply slow-release or all-purpose fertilizer monthly.