So wonderfully colored is the foliage of Amaranthus tricolor splendens (Amaranthus melancholicus) that it is called Joseph’s Coat, and rightly so, for it is as elaborate, brilliant, and arresting as the coat Jacob gave his favorite son long ago.
In the Gulf Coast area, we grow this plant for what it does to a dull, lackluster landscape. It brings new life to the midsummer garden for a few pennies worth of seed.
As it unfurls its gorgeous scarlet-crimson, variegated yellow and green foliage in the summer sun, a mass planting of it is a dazzling sight.
Sowing Amaranthus Seeds
Still brighter is the deep maroon variety Molten Fire. Seed may be sown after all danger of frost is over.
Eight weeks later, the planting will be at its best, and its color will last from 4 to 6 weeks under ordinary conditions.
If time is short, the seed may be sown in the bed where it is to grow to maturity. But plants show better if they’ve been moved at least once.
They transplant easily. Even very large plants may be moved if they’re lifted with soil covering their roots, planted deep, and watered properly.
When transferred, seedlings should be set from 12” to 14” inches apart in a well-prepared bed. While they’re small, the soil should be cultivated frequently to a shallow depth.
Requirements Of Amaranthus
After they’ve grown sufficiently to cover the area they’re in, and cultivation is no longer necessary. Requirements of amaranthus are very like those of other annuals.
It likes the sun and the high temperatures of southern summers and does best when grown in a sunny place.
Plants, one to 3’ feet tall, height depending on the fertility of the soil, respond nicely to a fairly heavy diet of barnyard manure or compost worked into the seedbed before planting.
They like a well-drained situation; they should not be kept wet but should not be allowed to suffer from too little moisture.
Displaying Colorful Blooms
Although inexpensive, Amaranthus makes a big, flashy display like a poinsettia.
Many of its bracts, just as colorful as those of the poinsettia, are even larger. And, it will grow in climates where the poinsettia will not.
The plants hold their beauty over a long period when most people find it too hot to garden or want to get away for a vacation.
Such people will be glad to hear that they may plant large areas of their places to Amaranthus and go away to play or loaf with the comfortable feeling that their gardens are getting along without them.
Ranch House Landscaping
Then, it is an ideal plant for new homeowners — those with modern homes and those with that “discovery” of the decade, the ranch-type house.
The amaranthus’s bold shape and striking color suit such houses to perfection.
Once it is better known, amaranthus should prove as popular in most other sections of the country as it is here in the Gulf Coast area.
There are several varieties besides Joseph’s Coat. Each has its merits, whether planted in small groups or large masses.
All require little attention once established and give color plenty when needed most.
44659 by W. J. Rogers