Amaranthus caudatus, Love-Lies-Bleeding, is an old-fashioned flower garden plant once again being offered as seed through catalogs and garden stores. I grow it for its oddball characteristics, long, droopy flower stalks covered with blossoms that range in color from pink to deep crimson. I think the amaranthus is a perfect choice for this week’s Cee’s Oddball Challenge.
My Love-Lies-Bleeding plants have grown to near four foot tall. During the last torrential rainstorm, the largest fell over and kissed the ground; precautionary staking would have been a good idea. I have mixed feelings about staking ornamental garden plants, an ugly support is an awkward eyesore and inevitably robs the plant of its natural flow of growth. I tend to stake a plant after-the-fact of leaning or falling over.
My husband remarked that the flower stalks reminded him of hair. I agreed and told him I would cut a few and use them to make an Autumn display. I am planning ahead even now on how I can create a pumpkin/gourd person or scarecrow and use these flowers as the hair. What fun!
I cut the blossoms from the plant that fell and hung them in a dark closet to dry. I laid the stem against the clothes rack in the same way the plant curved outdoors. This will give me dried locks of hair with a more natural spread, rather than if I hung them straight and upside-down.
One drawback I’ve found is the leaves are attractive to insects as food. What a surprise to learn as I wrote this post that most varieties of Amaranthus are edible for humans too. I’m afraid the insects haven’t left me many unscathed leaves to sample in recipes.
No worries…I pressed the lacy leaves between book pages. In artwork, they make terrific stencils for a random pattern, something I find hard to accomplish…I tend to be rather orderly and that’s a no-no in creative art.
Growing amaranthus is easy, they can be started early indoors, or sown directly in the soil after the danger of frost. My current crop was direct-sown and seems hardier than those I’ve sown indoors. At the end of summer, I will collect the seeds (there will be hundreds) and set some aside to dry and package up for next year. I will also give them a season of chilling in the refrigerator. In late October, early November, I will sprinkle some of the seeds directly into the garden beds and hope for volunteers next year. I’m really pleased with this flower in my garden. If you have a chance and the room give it a try.
Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)
Height 3 – 4 feet (in my NJ garden)
My plants get about 6-8 hours of full sun every day. No special care needed. I don’t use non-organic pesticides so I put up with the lacework of insects on my leaves.
Here’s a terrific article on growing amaranthus: The Spruce-Growing an Edible Armaranth Harvest.