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Amaranth

Amaranthus caudatus and other species

Amaranthus 'Early Splendor' (front) and 'Emerald Tassels' in the high tunnel in summer 2006.

Amaranthus ‘Early Splendor’ (front) and ‘Emerald Tassels’ in the high tunnel in summer 2006.

Propagation:

  • Amaranth is propagated from seeds and may be transplanted, although its rapid seedling growth (4 to 5 weeks to transplanting) makes direct sowing also an option.
  • Seedlings tend to be weak and spindly, and require high light and low N fertility (50 to 100 ppm N) to control excessive growth before transplanting.

Growing:

  • A native of the Tropics, amaranth grows best in 70 to 90 F day temperatures, and makes rapid growth in these conditions.
  • At 9 x 9 in. spacing, the plants of many varieties grow to 4 to 6 ft. tall, and develop thick stems that are useful only in presentation bouquets.
  • Pinching at node 6 to 8 would reduce stem diameter and stem length, and improve usefulness of the cut stems, but may benefit from wider spacing (12 x 12 in.).
Amaranthus 'Tower Green'.

Amaranthus ‘Tower Green’.

Varieties:

  • Amaranth has a number of varieties and species that can be used as cut flowers.
  • Some are harvested for their plumy flower stalks, with bright red, green or dark purple inflorescences, that may be either hanging down like ropes, or standing upright.
  • Others have inconspicuous flowers but spectacularly-colored foliage of red and yellow.

Postharvest Handling:

  • Species and varieties that produce showy inflorescences last about a week in water at room temperature.
  • Flowering species should be harvested when three-quarters of the florets are open.
  • Species grown for their colorful foliage (eg. Amaranthus tricolor) have a short vase life of about 5 days.

For more information, see: Armitage, A.M. and J.M. Laushman. 2003. Specialty Cut Flowers, 2nd Edition. Timber Press, 586 pp. Available through ASCFG.

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