Amaranthus, or summer poinsettia, is a striking annual plant grown for its foliage, including a swirling crown of brilliantly hot-colored red or yellow leaves.
Description: When plants have grown, the upper third of the foliage takes on hot colors of red and yellow. Some cultivars have solidly yellow or red leaves above the green ones, whereas others have mixed colors. The color lasts from about midsummer to frost.
How to grow: Grow in any fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Space two feet apart. Plants require hot weather and are drought tolerant once they are established. Do not deadhead or shear back these plants or you may lose the colorful tops.
Propagation: Start the small seeds indoors eight weeks before planting. Seeds germinate in ten days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In regions with long, hot summers, sow directly where they will grow.
Uses: Place in masses, especially in island beds and at the back of borders.
Related species: Amaranthus caudatus, known as love-lies-bleeding, is grown for its dramatically trailing seedpods in reddish tones. Amaranthus Pygmy Torch is 18 inches tall with purple leaves and curved, cranberry-red seed spikes.
Related varieties: Aurora is green with a crown of golden leaves. Illumination is coppery red, and Summer Poinsettia Perfecta has multicolored red, yellow, and green leaves at the top.
Scientific name: Amaranthus tricolor
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