A melange of amaranthus

I have said it before so I won’t go on about it but gardeners need patience. My plan for the two big raised beds this year was for a magnificent display of grain amaranths at the back and foliage amaranths at the front, with cannas for contrast and a few odds and ends mixed in. The colour scheme was to be distinctly orange and autumnal and the amaranths were to be the stars. I didn’t sow direct in cells this year but transplanted the seedlings into cells when they were tiny so there was no check to growth and they were planted out in May, again so there was no check to growth that would make them try to flower at a small size – I wanted growth – and lots of it. But nature had other ideas and a month of cold, dry weather and then hot dry weather did exactly what I feared. The plants hardly grew and then, horror, flowers started to appear in the centre of plants that were barely 20cm high. My plans for what are two of the most important beds in the garden were in tatters. I hastily planted nasturtiums to cover the cracks and concentrated on other parts of the garden.

Despair as the amaranths started to bloom while very small

Despair as the amaranths started to bloom while very small

As it turns out I need not have been so pessimistic. I grew five large varieties of amaranths including two different golden types (that seem identical) and two red. The fifth, ‘Dreadlocks’ is still to really flower and this one has made lots of growth, but the pendulous red flowers hardly show on the following photos.

So, here is what those ‘miserable’ plants have done – so far.

amaranthus aug

I really wanted them 1.5m high but I will have to be content with them at 1m or so. They all have several stems and they are great for cutting if you remove the leaves – a good contrast to the rudbeckias in the border and in a vase.

amaranthus aug7

As the flower heads age they keep on branching and get increasingly interesting.

amaranthus aug2

amaranthus aug5

amaranthus aug3

I thought Sunny the canary would like to peck away at these but I was wrong – he only has eyes for calabrese.


The title of this post just reminded me of a thread I saw on the message board of the Pacific Bulb Society the other day that was about collective nouns for plants (specifically, in their case, bulbs). A few are obvious, such as a Host of daffodils or a Drift of snowdrops. But what about others: maybe a Dilation of iris, a Bolt of pak choi, a Limp of lettuce, a Repeat of radish and a Weep of onions? What do you think? ‘Any suggestions?

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One Comment on “A melange of amaranthus”

  1. derrickjknight
    August 26, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    Well done – good title too.

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