You may have heard of the ancient grain amaranth which is an amazing food that is similar to quinoa and is full of protein. This crop has been grown in America for thousands of years and is considered a superfood around the world. Growing amaranth is easy!
There are many types of amaranth plants that can grow up to 10 feet tall! Its stem is a popular fun trellis that grapevines such as beans and peas can climb on. The grain provides food for birds and the flowers are worshiped by bees. Amaranth is also a leafy vegetable of the warm season with edible leaves that can be enjoyed like lettuce.
Learn about the varieties of amaranth and harvest this amazing food!
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Brief instructions for care
When you grow amaranth, you will get beautiful flower flags. Source: Melinda Young Stuart
|Common Name (s)||Red amaranth, prince feather, bleeding of love lies, copper head, Hopi red dye, hot biscuits, red root hogweed|
|Scientific name||Amaranthus hypochondriacus, Amaranthus cruentus and Amaranthus caudatus|
|Days to harvest||90-150 days|
|Water:||1-2 times a week|
|ground||Rich, well-drained soil|
|fertilizer||Only once when sowing the amaranth seeds|
|Pests||Clouded plant bug, amaranth weevil, flea beetle|
|Diseases||Dampening, root rot|
Everything about amaranth
There are many types of amaranth plants, but the ones commonly grown for grain are the princely feather (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) and the red amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus).
Other common names include red hogweed, purple amaranth, and velvet blossom.
Amaranthus is native to Central America and North America, but there are many varieties of amaranth around the world, for example in Africa and Asia. Amaranth plants range in height from 2 to 8 feet tall! The stems that form from the main root are sturdy and tough. The leaves are broad, with long, narrow, bushy flowers ranging in color from burgundy to golden yellow or green. Tiny seeds develop on the flower head, which is 4 to 12 inches long.
After planting, amaranth seeds germinate in 3-10 days and the seedlings seem to grow slowly. When the plant gets 1 foot tall it begins to grow rapidly and produce beautiful flowers. The grains can be harvested in autumn, when the flowers are brown and dry.
The young tender leaves of Amaranthus cruentus are edible and can be used as a substitute for leafy vegetables, or ripe leaves can be sautéed. Amaranth is a very nutritious food made with gluten-free seeds filled with protein. Often referred to as grains, the seeds can be ground into flour, popped, pressed into an oil, or cooked in a similar way to rice. If you like fresh sprouts, the tiny seeds can be germinated and enjoyed as microgreens! Some have used the plant as a dye, in an herbal shampoo, or even as a nutrient for their livestock.
There are so many fun varieties of Amaranthus to grow in your garden! There are the long flowing flowers of the coral fountain (Amaranthus caudatus), the colorful Joseph's coat (Amaranthus tricolor) or the large flowers of the elephant's head (Amaranthus gangeticus). It's easy to get lost browsing all of the amazing heirloom varieties. I have a hard time deciding which amaranth seed to plant first!
Amaranth is a sun and warmly loving plant. The best time of year to grow amaranth plants outdoors is mid-spring through early summer. If you want to start earlier, plant the seed indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost in your area.
Amaranth grows easily in many soil types, but thrives in well-drained, fertile, loamy soil. Plant directly in the ground in rows, raised beds, or large containers (10 to 18 inches in diameter) that receive plenty of sunlight. Plants started inside can be transplanted after your last frost date has passed.
Many prefer to grow amaranth near the border or in the back of the garden. It's a great companion plant and can be included in the 3-sister vegetable guild of corn, beans, and pumpkin. Try using amaranth instead of the corn and watch the beans climb up the amaranth stalks! Alternatively, you can try incorporating amaranth into other vegetable crops or producing it in your garden.
Over time, these stunning flower stalks will form seeds. Source: adstream
Amaranth requires little maintenance and is relatively pest and disease free. The more space and air circulation you have in the garden, the bigger the plants are! Let's examine how to properly care for amaranth cultivation and harvest the leaves and grain.
Sun and temperature
Amaranth requires full sunlight with a minimum of 6-8 hours. The USDA growth zone ranges from 3-10. The ideal temperature for germination is 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. At a young age, this culture does not tolerate cold temperatures and is prone to spring frosts, while mature plants can withstand the first frost of autumn. This plant loves hot temperatures and can withstand heat of up to 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water and moisture
Amaranth is a drought tolerant plant, yay! The main time to focus on watering your plants is when the seeds are germinating and when they are young seedlings. You should keep the soil moist, and once the plants are 2-4 inches you can water 1-2 times a week. Amaranth is very water efficient and will survive a few weeks without watering if you choose to take a vacation!
The best time to water amaranth is early morning or late afternoon and use a directional sprayer, waterer hose, or drip irrigation to concentrate the water on the base of the plant on the roots. Avoid watering flowers and grains. No moisture requirements are required for amaranth.
Amaranth loves rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates poor conditions, but may not be as vigorous in dense clay soils. Consider adding compost and peat moss to increase organic matter and drainage. The optimal pH range is between 6.0 and 7.5.
Since amaranth plants are easy to care for, fertilization is only necessary in poor growing conditions. Add fertilizers like fish emulsion or worm cast when you first plant the amaranth seeds and you're good to go! Alternatively, you can work some composted manure into the bed before planting and leave out the fertilization entirely. Note that nitrogen-rich fertilizers such as manure are not recommended.
Pruning / training
No pruning is required for this annual plant. However, to encourage more bloom, trim back the top half of the young plant when it is still young. This encourages the growth of more stems, which equates to more flower heads! Tall varieties may need additional support as they can bend or break in strong winds or storms. At the time of planting, place a trellis, net, or individual stakes and carefully tie the amaranth's stem to the support as it grows.
Amaranthus is propagated by seeds. The seeds are incredibly small! You can send and earth them easily. Alternatively, sow 1-2 seeds per shallow hole, ¼ inch deep about 4 inches apart. Keep the soil moist during germination.
Thin young plants up to 18 inches apart when their first real leaf has germinated. The amaranth seeds fall off easily from the flowers and plants themselves, so you can expect to see every year this year!
Harvesting and storing
Some amaranth have edible greens that can be cooked like a vegetable. Source: avlxyz
The beautiful blooms can be enjoyed as cut flowers, but we also want to harvest amaranth to eat and enjoy the delicious greens and nutritious seeds. Let's examine some methods of harvesting the grains and leaves.
Let's harvest amaranth leaves first. Young leaves can be harvested 25-40 days after planting. You can harvest the entire top half of the amaranth plant for the young leaves, and the stem will grow back with multiple stems. Alternatively, you can tear off the young leaves in the top half of the amaranth. Ripe leaves are harder and not as desirable.
Wait until the flowers are brown and dry in autumn to harvest amaranth seeds or cereals. You can even wait until after the first hard frost to harvest the seeds. Cut off the entire flower stem and sit in a dry place or in a paper bag for a few weeks.
The edible leaves are best eaten fresh and are considered perishable. Amaranth leaves will last a few days in the refrigerator if you wrap them in damp paper towels and store them in a plastic bag. You can also boil the leaves, drain them, and place them in the freezer for longer storage.
To get the seeds off the flowers, rub the seeds out with your hands or shake the seeds loosely in a paper bag or clean pillowcase. To remove finer chaff, gently blow it off with your breath or slowly swap the seeds in a slow waterfall motion between 2 bowls and let the finer chaff fly out in the wind. Store the seeds in an airtight container and put them in the refrigerator. The lifespan is 6-8 months.
An extreme close-up of an amaranth flower. Source: Rich Gibson
Amaranthus is a relatively pest-free plant that grows vigorously in the garden. However, you may find that your plant is not growing as tall and strong as you'd like, or that something is nibbling on the leaves. We'll discuss how to fix some of these potential problems.
When your crops are in the shade or densely plantedYou will find that your amaranth will be smaller. You should adjust the available sunlight as other plants shade your amaranth or thin the amaranth to a distance of 18 inches to allow the air to properly circulate.
The Temperature can be a factor in growing questions. Amaranth loves hot, sunny weather. If you are in a cooler region, you may want to place your plant in the hottest part of your garden and use rock mulch.
Visible damage to leaves can be caused by Amaranthus tribe weevil. Their larvae chew on the roots. Growth is slowed down and the stems can twist. Try to cut out infected leaves and remove any larvae found, but most likely you will need to remove the plant from the site entirely. Neem oil has had some effect on reducing the number.
Clouded plant bugs attacks the seeds and flowers by sucking up the liquid. This will decrease semen production. You can use the organic pesticide pyrethrin to get rid of the infestation. When plants are young, floating row covers can keep them in check.
Flea beetle Dear seedlings, you can try a preventive measure against these pests by using a floating row cover. If the infestation is mild, you can apply diatomaceous earth or kaolin clay. Use pyrethrin if the infestation is severe.
There aren't really that many diseases that threaten resilient amaranth. The main concern can be Attenuation offthat will appear in crops in the younger plant stages. Plants can suddenly die from too much nitrogen or overwatering. To prevent this from happening, try to limit fertilizer use and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. You can also thin out the seedlings to encourage more airflow and ensure your planters are sanitized.
Root rot can also affect the growth of your amaranth. This is usually caused by conditions that are too humid and can easily be remedied in the future by making sure your soil is well drained. Plants that are currently suffering from root rot may be watered less often, but often do not stay green and healthy. If the plant dies, remove it and do not compost the roots to prevent the spread of the fungal pathogens that cause root rot.
frequently asked Questions
Ornamental amaranth is very popular in the garden. Source: the queen of subtleties
Q: Why is amaranth banned in the US?
A: Good question! The cultivation of amaranth is not prohibited. Instead, the amaranth dye added to commercial foods is banned. The plants are very commonly grown in gardens in the United States.
Q: How long does it take to grow amaranth?
A: Depending on the variety, it takes 90-150 days to grow amaranth!
Q: is amaranth easy to grow?
A: So easy! It's a fun and hassle-free plant for your garden with stunning flowers and great food for the family.
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