Amaranthus - Amaranth, Chinese Spinach, Hinn Choy, Joseph's-Coat, Love-Lies-Bleeding, Prince's Feather, Prince's-Feather, Tampala, Tassel Flower
DESCRIPTION: These are tender annuals that are natives of India, the Philippines and other warm countries. They are erect-growing plants; their height ranges from 2 to 8 feet high. Their leaves are long or oval, from 2 to 4 inches long and they start out green or dark red and change to bright yellow, orange or florescent pink at the tops. They produce pretty tassels of flowers that may be wine red or chartreuse. The flowers last a long time. Those with colorful leaves don't produce as lovely flowers. A. tricolor is an edible vegetable commonly known as Tampala, Chinese Spinach and Hinn Choy. This is an old and widely distributed annual with many selections; some are grown for grain, some for their edible leaves and flower buds, others for decoration. The commonly grown Amaranth has large, tender leaves that are broad and fuzzy. They are usually green, but they are sometimes blotched with brownish purple. This plant will grow from 3 to 6 feet, but is usually cut back to encourage branching and delay flowering. This is one of the best heat-resistant greens for cooking and it grows well throughout the U.S.
POTTING: In late May or early June they may be planted outside in moist, well-drained soil, 18 to 20 inches apart. They should receive sun half the day or more. A. tricolor is not frost hardy. It should have fertile soil in full sun and be set 3 to 6 inches apart. Amaranth is difficult to transplant except when the seedlings are very small. In cooler climates, it will grow faster under a cloche or plastic tunnel. Some gardeners prune larger plants for their tender leaves and tips. Others prefer to time plantings 2 weeks apart and pull up the young tender plants to eat.
PROPAGATION: Seeds may be started indoors at a 70- to 75-degree temperature, 6 to 8 weeks before it's safe to plant outside, in pots or flats filled with finely sifted compost made of two-thirds sandy loam and one-third leaf mold. When the baby plants are an inch or so high, they may be planted separately in 3-inch pots using the same soil mixture as used above, though it should be passed through a coarse sieve. Seeds may also be sown directly outside as soon as it is warm enough to sow Beans and they are eventually thinned to the distance described above in potting.
VARIETIES: A. caudatus (Love-Lies-Bleeding or Tassel Flower), 2 ft., dark, reddish-purple flowers; A. hybridus variety hypochondriacus (Prince's-Feather), 3-4 ft., erect, deep red flowers; A. salicifolius, 3 ft., long, thin leaves; A. gangeticus & varieties tricolor (Joseph's-Coat), red, yellow & green leaves; tricolor splendens; ruber, 12", red leaves; Molten Fire, bright carmine leaves; Fire King, dark red & scarlet leaves.
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