There are two main forms of Amaranthus used in floristry, an upright version (A. hypochondriacus) which has feather-shaped spikes, and a trailing version A. caudatus which is like a long fluffy tail, with many smaller tails attached to the main stem. Each spike is made up of many small flowers that give the flowers a ruffled appearance, almost like chenille. There are two main colours in both forms, a dark red and a lime green. The flowers are very long lasting, but the leaves fade relatively quickly.
Amaranthus is grown as a field crop. Most are grown in Victoria and NSW.
Types: Amaranthus caudatus (trailing), A. hypochondriacus (upright)
What to look for
- Buy when about 3/4 of the flowers are open, as buds will not open in the vase;
- Avoid spikes with a faded brown colour, as these are old;
- Don’t worry about the odd fleck of yellow pollen.
- Keep cool at all times.
- Bunches do not normally contain leaves, but if they do strip them all off.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each branch and place in water immediately.
- Always use a preservative as this will help keep open flowers looking fresh.
- Replace vase water with fresh preservative every day.
- Keep flowers away from direct sun as this can quickly fade the red colour.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
The name ‘Amaranth’, comes from the Greek word ‘amarantos’, meaning ‘does not fade’. In ancient times it was used by witches to mend a broken heart.
Several species, particularly A. cruentis and A. hypochondriaca are grown for food in Asia (the Himalayas) and South and Central America. Amaranth grain was one of the staple foods of the Incas, and is still grown today. It was also used by the Aztecs, and other Amerindian peoples in Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods. Amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey to make a treat called alegría (literally “joy”)
Botanical Name: Amaranthus caudatus, A. hypochondriacus
Common Names: A. caudatus: Love Lies Bleeding, Amaranthus
Stem Length: 30 to 60 cm
Country of Origin: South America
Available Colours: Green, Red