Guide to Caring for Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus): 4 commonly Grown Species
One of the most distinguishing factors of the Amaranthus caudatus is its bright color and erect position; this remarkable feature earned it its name, Love Lies Bleeding. Its unique and popular name stems from the small, blood-red, petalless blooms that blossom all season long in the terminal and axillary panicles that are slender, drooping, and tassel-like. Panicles typically hang horizontally.
Common names include pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.
Like most plants, the genus name describes the characteristic unfading nature of the long-lasting flowers possessed by some species. The name of the genus comes from the Greek word amarantos. Also, the specific epithet refers to how the blooms look and signifies having a tail. The other names for this plant include pendant amaranth, tassel flower velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.
Foxtail amaranth is one of the three amaranth species (Amaranthus) frequently cultivated for their tiny seeds, consumed as a grain, or crushed into flour. The plant is frequently grown as a garden decorative, and the leaves are tasty. Although not highly invasive, this species may hang close to agricultural regions. These plants complete their growth circle in a year – that is, growth, germination, maturation, production of seeds, flowers, and even death occur all in one growing season.
Genus/Specie name: Amaranthus caudatus
Common name: Love Lies Bleeding
Plant type: Annual Plant
Origin: Central America
Height: 1 to 3 feets
Flower color: Green, Orange, Red
Propagation methods: Seeding and transplanting
Cultivation and History of Love-lies-bleeding
The Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs used the Central and South American love lies bleeding grain as their primary food source. It was regarded as a healthy food for children and the elderly due to its robust nutritional value. Love lays bleeding may be originated in the Victorian era, when the romantic language of flowers allowed for subtly expressing love and its myriad feelings.
Love lies bleeding is a prolific self-sowing plant – it has even come to be regarded as a “weed” by gardeners in warmer climates where plants may reappear year after year. The species is a gluten-free grain. As an alternative to common wheat, oats, and corn, it is frequently referred to as a “pseudo-cereal.” Our tropical plant’s seeds and leaves are both edible. Again, the leaves of love lies bleeding become highly nitrated and potentially cancer-causing when cultivated in nitrogen-rich soil, a situation frequently brought about by chemical fertilization.
If you want to eat the leaves, consider growing your plants in a container or raised bed because this could include lawn fertilizer run-off. It is not a work in the park to detect nitrogen in the soil as nitrogen is a volatile element – they are easily vapourised; therefore, detecting them in the soil is uneasy. However, if you intend to consume the plant, we strongly advise that you grow the plant organically to avoid the risk of cancer induced by the nitrogen-rich soils. The typical growth habit of plants is an upright, bushy one. You might also observe other bees and a few hummingbirds, even though some helpful pollinators, such as honeybees, are not drawn to the tiny blooms. A feast for scavenging songbirds at the end of the season, the seeds
Grow love lies bleeding
When it comes to growing love lies bleeding, it is crucial to consider the climate and location where the plant will be grown. It is best to start seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost and then transplant them into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. The plant requires full sun and well-draining soil to thrive. It is also relatively drought-resistant, making it an excellent option for hot summer climates.
It is a truly striking and eye-catching plant that adds color and beauty to any summer-to-fall garden. With its vibrant red, pink, or purple drooping flower heads that bloom in tassel-like panicles, it’s sure to turn heads and impress. It is easy to grow and care for and boasts impressive seed germination rates, making it a reliable and resilient choice for any gardener. Whether you’re planting it in full sun or well-drained soil, it’s sure to thrive. Plus, with the potential to produce over 50,000 seeds per plant, it’s an excellent choice for anyone looking to harvest their seeds.
As you care for your love lies bleeding plants, you must watch out for pests and diseases that may affect the plant. Love lies bleeding needs to be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer, and the soil needs adequate moisture. To keep the plant bushy and full, pinch back the growing tips and remove any yellow or damaged leaves.
Below are things you should know;
SOIL/ENVIRONMENT: Despite often tolerating higher alkalinity or acidity, the optimal pH range for this plant is 6.4 to 8.5. Although love lies bleeding may handle some shade, especially in hotter climates, full sun is preferred for producing flowers with its characteristically brilliant/vivid color. As a pioneer species for colonizing disturbed soils, amaranth cultivation contributes to the health of farmlands. This trait is primarily related to their efficient water-using C4 form of photosynthesis.
IRRIGATION: Including rain, provide one inch of water each week. Plants have above-average drought tolerance once grown, but maintaining moist soil is essential for their health and bright color.
OUTDOOR SOWING: Using an essential seed-starting mix, you can start seeds indoors by sowing them around 6 to 8 weeks before the typical last frost date. Seeds should be lightly covered and kept continually moist at about 60 °F. When seeds germinate, cultivate the plants in bright light until they are prepared to be transplanted outside. Before transferring the seedlings into the garden, harden them off so they are ready for the elements. Before effectively putting the seedlings outdoors, the average temperature must be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Amaranthus caudatus propagation:
Propagation requires intentionality for exceptional bloom. Even though it is considered a self-starter plant, propagation can be achieved through seeding and transplantation from nurseries to suitable soil for optimal yield.
SEEDS: Love lies bleeding seeds are tiny, with a diameter of just a quarter of an inch. They typically germinate in three to five days, but it takes between 60 to 110 days from germination to flowering. Eight to ten weeks before the last typical spring frost, plant seeds in well-draining potting soil to gain a head start on the growing season. According to studies, seeds placed at a depth of one centimeter, or roughly 0.39 inches, have the highest germination rate. That’s what I mean by “barely covered.” Additionally, they suggest that darkness and a temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) are ideal for germination.
TRANSPLANTING: Timing is crucial to ensure the best possible growth. To avoid stunted growth and ensure a healthy plant, it’s best to wait until the danger of frost has passed before transplanting seedlings or plants from a nursery into your garden. This will give your plants the best chance to thrive and flourish, adding a vibrant and unique touch to your summer-to-fall garden. So, don’t rush the process; take the time to ensure your Amaranthus caudatus is planted at the perfect time for optimal growth.
First, prepare the garden soil to a depth of around 12 inches when you are ready to transplant, then create a uniformly crumbly consistency, and remove any stones and other debris that may be present on the cultivation bed or pot.
Again, to accommodate mature proportions, promote airflow, prevent fungal growth and transmission, and make it more difficult for disease-carrying pests to move from plant to plant, space seedlings or plants 18 inches apart. Finally, transplant stress is common when plants are in a different depth than their previous location. Water often and tamp the soil to get rid of air pockets.
Pruning and maintenance
Pruning precedes germination; when its long flower stems begin to emerge, Love-lies-bleeding frequently needs to be staked – bamboo is a practical alternative for staking. Insert a 4-foot-tall stake into the ground close to the plant’s base, and tie the stem loosely to the stake as it grows. An opportunistic pathogen may utilize the dirt caused by fallen parts to cause and spread diseases. Remove any damaged or diseased plant material with clean shears to prevent opportunistic pests and pathogens from invading. Alternatively, you can remove the plants from the ground and compost them to eliminate the rotting foliage that might otherwise attract pests and illnesses.
Again, the stalks can be made into a bouquet and hung upside-down in an excellent, dry spot for several weeks. For ornamental purposes, put them in bouquets with everlasting flowers once they are dried.
When harvesting, love lies bleeding; waiting until the flowers have fully bloomed and the tassels have turned brown is best. The stalks and flower heads can be cut and hung upside-down to dry. The leaves and seeds can also be used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
It is important to note that Foxtail amaranthus is a prolific self-sowing plant, so removing the seed heads before they mature is best to avoid self-seeding. This can be done by cutting the stalks and hanging them upside-down to dry.
Harvesting love lies bleeding is a simple process that can be done when the flowers have fully bloomed and the tassels have turned brown. The stalks, flower heads, leaves, and seeds can all be used for various purposes, and it is best to harvest the plant in the morning when the moisture content is at its highest. Happy harvesting!
Cultivars to select
Approximately 70 species of the Amaranthus genus are currently grown in cultivation. There are, nonetheless, a lot of well-known cultivars. Because of the variety of available options, you must verify the species before purchasing. The bulk of the species are regarded as weeds and are very different from the lovely plants with bronze or purple leaves and enormous, showy flowers in the shape of tassels that are a favorite for bouquets and cut flowers.
The commonly grown species are as follows;
- Red Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus) is indigenous to Guatemala and Mexico.
- Native to Eastern North America, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, slim Amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus). This cultivar has gorgeous purple leaves, red flowers, and white seeds.
- The native to Mexico Prince of Wales feather (Amaranthus hypochondriacus). They are superb, protein-rich black seed-producing heritage plants.
- Joseph’s coat (Amaranthus tricolor), a plant indigenous to Tropical Asia. The leaf of this species is nutrient-rich and has a spinach-like, somewhat acidic flavor. Popular cultivars of this plant include “Molten Fire” and “Joseph’s Coat.
Love Lies Bleeding Light Requirements
It is a versatile plant that thrives in full sun and partial shade. In the northern portion of its natural habitat, it thrives in full sun, but it can benefit from some afternoon shade in warm southern regions. The plant may experience stress from the intense heat and sun exposure in hot climates, and the afternoon shade will provide some relief.
Love lies bleeding should be planted in an area with six hours of direct sunlight daily. This will give the plant the necessary energy to grow and produce beautiful blooms. However, in areas where the sun is particularly intense, it may be beneficial to provide some afternoon shade to prevent stress and ensure optimal growth.
Soil: Love Lies Bleeding
Love Lies Bleeding is a hardy and resilient plant that can thrive in many soil types. It can grow well in both average and poor soils, making it an excellent option for gardeners needing better soil conditions. This plant is known for its ability to thrive in poor soil and still produce beautiful blooms.
The only soil type that may be unsuitable for amaranth is very dense clay mixtures, which may be too heavy for the plant to thrive. On the other hand, vibrant soils may prevent the plant from flowering and forming seeds, as it may need less effort to survive. This can result in reduced blooming and seed production.
Amaranthus caudatus needs soil that drains well and is neither too dense nor too rich if you want it to grow well. This will allow the plant to grow and flourish, producing beautiful blooms and healthy seeds.
Average water requirements for amaranth plants are less than one inch per week. Be cautious and avoid overwatering, as this may lead to root rot, often caused by fungi. Root rot plays a role in the futility of the plant as it causes stunted growth as the plant loses its vigor, becomes yellow, and could wilt or die back, dropping some of its leaves. The fertilizer does not affect them in this state.
In contrast to other lush green crops, love lies bleeding does well in the heat. Since many species are indigenous to the southern United States and Mexico, you can expect them to flourish even in hot temperatures. The temperature rise is vital to the germination of the seeds, usually at a temperature range of 5–35 degrees Celsius. At zero degrees Celsius, germination should not be expected.
One should expect fertilizers to fast-track the plant’s growth; however, the reverse is the case. Amaranth does not need any extra nutrition. Plants that have been treated with excess nitrogen are not advised for consumption. The nitrogen contained in the fertilizer can cause cancer, especially when in excess. Again, this makes plants lanky and less appropriate for harvest. It will support the plant’s growth by applying manure to it.
Pest and disease control:
Many of the same pests and illnesses that harm other vegetables can also impact amaranth. Weevils and aphids are widespread. For the former, insecticidal soaps work well, and floating row coverings shield the plants from the latter. Use commercial pesticides with “wait to pick” or other consumption-related warnings sparingly. Many of these pesticides are broad-spectrum, made to kill a variety of insects, and may contain substances that people shouldn’t consume. Although love lies bleeding is mainly free of pests, there are some to be on the lookout for, including:
- The damaging burrowing grub known as the pigweed weevil, Hypolixus haerens, is becoming more common on commercial agricultural plants outside the United States. This pest disperses harmful fungi like Fusarium that can spread illness. Neem oil, pyrethrins, and toxic chemical pyrethroid insecticides are all potentially effective natural insecticides and fungicides.
- Wet rot and anthracnose are fungi that can be treated with fungicides that contain copper. To prevent the spread of the disease, it may be preferable to remove the infected plants because these fungicides can be harmful. Damping off, also known as seed or seedling death, can be brought on by overwatering, oversowing, or crowding. Managing these pests dramatically reduces the risk of contracting the mosaic virus, which is conveyed by aphids that feed on lettuce.
Do it yourself (DIY) pest control strategy:
Additionally, you can create your DIY insecticidal soap by combining one gallon of water with five tablespoons of pure soap. Please put it in a spritz bottle to care for plants as necessary.
Alternatively, use organic insecticidal neem oil as directed on the packaging.
Japanese beetles should be picked up by hand and placed in the previously specified soapy water solution.
Not only is love lies bleeding a beautiful and unique plant to grow in your garden, but it also offers a variety of health benefits when consumed as a grain or crushed into flour. One cup of cooked amaranth contains 46 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fat, and 251 calories, making it a great energy source. With 9 grams of protein per cup, it also has the highest protein content of any grain, providing essential amino acids such as lysine, which is absent in other cereals.
Its high protein content is a good source of vitamins B6, folate, calcium, copper, selenium, zinc, and iron, and an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. It also contains the phytochemical squalene, which has been found to have anticancer and cholesterol-lowering properties.
One of the most surprising benefits of Amaranth grain is its impact on hair health. The high levels of lysine in the grain can help improve hair quality, making it stronger and healthier. It can also help with hair growth, reducing hair loss and promoting better roots. The attractive pale green foliage of the plant also helps retain its color. It needs little water, making it an excellent option for gardeners who may have limited water resources or experience droughts in their area.
In conclusion, this beautiful and unique plant can add a vibrant touch to any garden. Its bright color and tassel-like blooms make it an eye-catching addition to any garden bed or border. The plant has a long history as a staple grain in ancient civilizations, and it can be used in many ways, both in cooking and as medicine. You can start it from seeds indoors a few weeks before the last frost and transplant it into your garden once the danger of frost has passed. It requires full sun, well-drained soil, and is drought-resistant.
Caring for love lies bleeding is also easy; it requires regular watering and fertilization and keeping an eye out for pests and diseases. When it comes to harvesting, it is best to wait until the flowers have fully bloomed and the tassels have turned brown, and the stalks, flower heads, leaves, and seeds can all be used for various purposes. The plant is self-sowing, so removing the seed heads before they mature is the best way to avoid self-seeding. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a newbie, love lies bleeding: an easy-to-grow, versatile plant that will surely add a touch of beauty to your garden.
Frequently asked questions:
What amaranth components can I use?
The abundant tiny seeds that remain on the plant after the lovely red petals fade are one of the main reasons edible amaranth is planted. The bulk seed is added as a thickening to soups and stews or used as a grain in porridges. The leaves of amaranth can also be used as a leafy vegetable; they have a flavor like spinach and can be prepared similarly to many other leafy vegetables, particularly in mixed-green salads.
How do I gather amaranth?
Let the plant bloom before gathering the amaranth grains. Watch the blooms as they bloom and start to wither. Cut the blooms off before they turn brown, and put them in bags to dry before storing them. Once dry, shake the bag or lose the seeds over a cloth. Rinse the dried seed chaff away, then take pleasure in your grain harvest. A porridge with other grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth is delicious.
How do I determine if the amaranth I have is the appropriate kind?
Choose annual amaranth cultivars sold as edibles if consumption is the aim. Almost all amaranths, including “love-lies-bleeding” and even the typical roadside weedy varieties, are edible. On the other hand, cultivars offered as edibles are chosen for their pleasant leaves and good seed output.