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The Amaranthus variety many gardeners in North America are familiar with is A. caudatus, commonly known as “love lies bleeding,” a large, showy plant with unusual and striking red plumage that offers summer and fall drama. As the plant matures, impressive, large, and red-tinged light green leaves are joined by long “tails” of drooping flower heads populated by hundreds of tiny deep-crimson blooms.
Also known as tassel flower, the plant’s 2-foot-long “tails” can retain their color for six to eight weeks and look especially striking when planted with chrysanthemum, sunflower, or viburnum.
The plant grows 2 to 8 feet tall and from 1 to 3 feet wide. The type of soil will impact the growth of love lies bleeding, with plants growing in rich soil or compost typically getting taller than those grown in average soil. Well-drained loam is best for Amaranthus, but it will do well in almost any soil.
You may be able to find starts at a garden center, or you can plant seeds inside 8 weeks before the last frost.
Expect to see flowers three months after planting seeds.
Amaranthus is fairly pest-free, but keep an eye out for aphids, which can be removed with a blast of water or an insecticidal soap. You can make your own insecticidal soap by mixing 5 tablespoons of pure soap to 1 gallon of water.
Apply a balanced fertilizer monthly throughout the growing season.
A. caudatus re-seeds itself liberally, even earning itself “weed” status in the eyes of some gardeners. Indeed, some amaranthus varieties have been slapped with the undignified nickname “pigweed.” But just stay on top of the seedlings — or let the plant reproduce with abandon — and you’ll be fine.