Amaranth: Perfecta (Heirloom) (Amaranthus Tricolor 'Perfecta')
Soil Preparation & Start Outdoors
Harvesting & Storage
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Also known as: Joseph’s coat, Summer Poinsettia.
Native Range: Africa, Indochina
Ease of Growing: Easy
Grown as: Annual
Maturity: 105 Days
Hardiness: Amaranth grows best in hot weather and doesn't do well if it's cold.
Growing Season: Long
Growing Conditions: Warm, Hot. Amaranth is a tropical plant that uses C4 photosynthesis (like corn and sunflower), which makes it particularly efficient in high heat and light intensities. Plant Amaranth in a warm sheltered spot with full sun.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 60°F - 95°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 50°F. Amaranth is a tropical plant so likes warm soil.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade. Min. 6 hours daily (Cool, Warm, Hot). Amaranth is a tropical plant and thrives with full sun.
Water: Medium. Amaranth is relatively drought tolerant and too much water may cause the roots to rot. However for maximum production of both leaf and seed the soil should never be allowed to dry out.
Soil Moisture: Moist. Well drained.
Feeder: Moderate. Amaranth grows fast and produces a lot of nutrition, so it's not surprising that it is a fairly hungry plant. It does best on a well-drained and fertile soil, similar to that for corn. If growing for seed, it will require more fertilizer than if you're growing it for leaves.
Suitability: Drought tolerant, High heat, Needs lots of space.
Small Gardens?: No
Containers?: Yes. It makes an excellent container plant, and adapts well to hanging baskets.
Attracts Beneficial Insects: No.
Plant Height: 24”
Sow Depth: 1/4"-1/2"
Produces: Clusters of scarlet new leaves with yellow and green tips crown the tall stems
USDA Grow Zone: 3-10
Garden Uses: Beds or borders. Interesting edging along walks or paths. Containers.
Soil pH: 5.5-7.0, Ideal 6.0-6.5. Amaranth can do well on soils that are too poor and dry for most crops. However, for a good seed crop it needs a well drained and fertile soil, similar to that for corn. It doesn't need a great deal of nitrogen or phosphorus, though it does like potassium.
Standard Mix, 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft., in top 6" of soil, 1 time: A standard mix will supply all necessary nutrients. This is a mix of various amendments intended to supply all of the nutrients plants may require. It is usually incorporated into the soil prior to planting. The mix consists of:
- 4 parts cottonseed meal (this is high in nitrogen and relatively inexpensive)
- 2 parts colloidal phosphate or bone meal (for phosphorus)
- 2 parts wood ash or 3 parts greensand or granite dust (for potassium)
- 1 part dolomitic limestone (to balance pH and add calcium and magnesium)
- 1 part kelp meal (for trace elements)
Mix these together thoroughly. You can do this all at once, or you can store them separately and mix as needed.
Compost (Nitrogen), 2" of soil, 1 time: Incorporate 2˝ to 3˝ of aged manure or compost into the top 6˝ to 8˝ of soil (which is where most of the plant's feeder roots are found).
When outdoor temp: 60°F to 95°F, optimal temp 75°F to 85°F
When min soil temp: 50°F. Amaranth is a tropical plant so likes warm soil.
Seed Depth: 0.25"-0.5". Amaranth is sown 1/4" in cool soil, 1/2" deep in warm soil.
Spacing: 12"-24", (1 per 2'x2') plants per sq ft. Put the plants 12" to 24" apart each way in offset rows.
2-4 weeks after Last frost date: Amaranth is sown ¼˝ to ½˝ deep by broadcasting (and then covering with soil) or by planting in rows. It is easy to sow a lot of plants at a time, but you usually don’t need many.
Water Needs: Moderate. Amaranth is relatively drought tolerant and too much water may cause the roots to rot. However for maximum production of both leaf and seed the soil should never be allowed to dry out.
Fertilizer Needs: Moderate. Amaranth grows fast and produces a lot of nutrition, so it's not surprising that it is a fairly hungry plant. It does best on a well-drained and fertile soil, similar to that for corn. If growing for seed, it will require more fertilizer than if you're growing it for leaves.
Watering, regularly: Water, 0.5 inch(es), regularly, 2 times a week This fast growing plant grows in the hottest part of the year, so you will need to irrigate regularly. This also depends on your local weather; don't water if it's raining, or water more frequently if it's dry.
The best way to know how much moisture is in your soil is to feel 2" below the soil line. If it's dry, water.
Weeding, regularly: regularly, every 2 weeks. Keep well weeded when young. Be careful though, Amaranth weeds look a lot like Amaranth crop, although crop has a purplish color to the tips.
Younger leaves will be tender and more flavorful, but you can also leave the plants to grow taller and harvest the whole stem.
When and How:
Leaves, 1-28 days after maturity: Start by harvest thinning extra plants, to get them to the correct spacing. Once the plants are growing strongly, pinch out (and eat) the growing tips. Amaranths have strong apical dominance, so this makes them branch out and get bushier with new growth. The leaves are best before the flowers appear.
In some tropical home gardens, harvesting of leaves doesn’t start until the plants are 4 or 5 feet high. Then the tops are pinched out and eaten. After this the side shoots are harvested as they reach useful size. Any flower buds are removed promptly and eaten with their surrounding leaves. By harvesting frequently and preventing flowering, the plants can be made to produce edible shoots for months.
Storage Req: Drying
Storage Temp: 55-70°F
Storage Length: 1-360 days
The leaves could be frozen like spinach.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Seed Viability in Years: 5 - 7 years
Germination Percentage: 70%
Culinary Use: Amaranths are mildly flavored, but very good. They can be steamed or boiled in a small amount of water (the latter may be better as it can reduce the amount of oxalic acid they contain). Don't cook them for more than a few minutes or they will get too watery.
To attract Ladybugs to your garden you will need to grow: Angelica, Calendula, Caraway, Chives, Cilantro, Cosmos,
Dill, Fennel, Feverfew, Marigold, Statice, Sweet Alyssum, and Yarrow. You may also want to grow decoy crops to keep your ladybugs supplied with aphids to eat such as Early cabbage, Marigold, Nasturtium, and Radish. Without a food source, your ladybugs will be forced to leave which will leave your crops vulnerable.
Soft-winged Flower Beetle or Collops Beetle: Collops beetles are commonly found on Alfalfa and Cotton plants in agricultural fields, landscapes and gardens. The adult eats aphids and the larvae are active predators in the soil. Two abundant species in Utah are the two-spotted melyrid and the soft-winged flower beetle. Collops beetles are not commercially available.
Soldier Beetles: The adult stage of the soldier beetle eats aphids. The larvae live in the soil and help to control soil-borne pests. There are beetles that look similar to soldier beetles such as blister beetles and click beetles, so use care when identifying them. Soldier beetles are not commercially available.
Since Soldiers Beetles lay their eggs in the soil, all you have to do to is grow good nectar or pollen producing plants like Asclepias (milkweed), Solidago (goldenrod), and, while it’s not well understood, they seem particularly attracted to hydrangeas. Soldier Beetles can be found on flowers where they lie and wait for prey. They also feed on nectar and pollen but do not damage the plants.
Long-legged Flies: There are many species of long-legged flies (Dolichopodidae), the adults of which are predators of soft-bodied pests such as thrips, aphids, spider mites, flea hoppers, booklice, flies, silverfish, small caterpillars, and a variety of other small insects. They also eat nectar from flowers. The adult is recognized by the long legs and tapered abdomen but also by the metalic green or blue color. Larvae of long-legged flies are maggot-like in appearance and develop in wet or dry soil, rotting vegetation, or under bark. They are not commercially available.
Syrphid, Flower, or Hover Flies: Syrphid flies are about the size of house flies and hover in flight. The adults, which sometimes resemble bees, are not predaceous, but the larvae are aphid predators. The larvae vary in color from green to brown, some with a stripe or two down the back. The body tapers to the mouthparts. Syrphid flies are not commercially available.
To attract Hover Flies to your garden try growing: Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea ﬁlipendulina), Common yarrow
(Achillea millefolium), Carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), Lavender globe lily (Allium tanguticum), Basket of Gold (Alyssum saxatilis), Dill (Anethum graveolens), Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria), Dwarf alpine aster (Aster alpinus), Masterwort (Astrantia major), \Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Caraway (Carum carvi), Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum),
Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum CA), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii), Statice (Limonium latifolium), Butter and eggs (Linaria vulgaris), Edging lobelia (Lobelia erinus), Sweet alyssum white (Lobularia maritima), Lemon Balm (Melissa ofﬁcinalis), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Wild Bergamot (Monarda ﬁstulosa), Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus), Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta ‘warrenii’), Alpine cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa), Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia fulgida), Orange stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum), Stonecrops (Sedum spurium), Peter Pan goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), Wood betony (Stachys ofﬁcinalis), Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia), Crimson thyme (Thymus serpylum coccineus), Spike speedwell (Veronica spicata), Zinnia "liliput" (Zinnia elegans).
Predaceous Midges: The larvae of these flies are very small (~1/10 inch long), but are generalist predators of mites, aphids and other soft-bodied insects. The larvae are yellow to orange in color. The adults are not predatory. Predaceous midges are commercially available.
Damsel Bugs: These true bugs are very common and abundant in farms, gardens and landscapes. They are generalist predators and both the adults and nymphs eat aphids, caterpillar eggs, small larvae, fleahoppers, lygus bugs, leafhoppers, treehoppers, spider mites, and other soft-bodied insects, especially on shorter growing plants. They are common in agricultural habitats, such as soybean, corn, and alfalfa. Damsel bugs are greyish brown in color and have grasping front legs. They are not commercially available.
To attract Damsel Bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Big-eyed Bugs: Big-eyed bugs are small (~3/16 inch long), fast moving true bugs. They are generalist predators and are most commonly seen on the ground or in shorter growing plants. They prey on aphids, small caterpillars and caterpillar eggs, fleahoppers, lygus bugs, mites, thrips, whiteflies. They are distinguished by their very large eyes which are as broad as the width of their body. Big-eyed bugs are not available commercially.
To attract Big-eyed bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Minute Pirate Bugs: Minute pirate bugs are very small (~1/12 inch long) predators that are difficult to see without a hand lens or jeweler’s loupe. They are generalist predators that feed on small insect prey. Both the nymphs and adults are predaceous. The adults are identified by the black and white color and an X pattern across the back. The nymphs are tiny and red to orange in color. Minute pirate bugs are commercially available.
To attract Minute Pirate Bugs to your garden you will need to grow: Caraway (Carum carvi), Cosmos “white sensation” (Cosmos bipinnatus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peter Pan Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), and Marigold “lemon gem” (Tagetes tenuifolia).
Lacewings: Green lacewings are common generalist predators that feed on aphids. Brown lacewings are slightly smaller. Some species of adult lacewings are predaceous while the larvae are very active predators that feed on soft-bodied prey such as mites, aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, whiteflies, and pest eggs. Lacewings in nearly all life stages are commercially available.
To attract Lacewings to your garden you will need to grow: Fern-leaf yarrow (Achillea ﬁlipendulina), Dill (Anethum graveolens), Angelica (Angelica gigas), Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria), Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata), Caraway (Carum carvi), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum),
Cosmos white sensation (Cosmos bipinnatus), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Prairie sunﬂower (Helianthus maximilianii), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Dandelion (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale).
Parasitic Wasps: There are several species of parasitoid wasps that parasitize aphids specifically. Parasitic wasps that specialize on aphids are very small (~1/8 inch long) and female wasps have a modified stinger for depositing eggs. The egg is injected into an aphid where the larva develops inside. Parasitized aphids are a light tan to gold color and have a bulbous look. A circular cut out on the rearend of the aphid indicates adult wasp emergence. Parasitic wasps are commercially available but there are abundant populations in the environment.
Hornets, Paper Wasps, Yellow Jackets: Although hornets, paper wasps and yellow jackets are often considered a nuisance, they are predators of soft-bodied insects. They do not typically sting humans unless they are disturbed. If their nests are not in an area likely to be disturbed by people then it is not a bad idea to leave them alone.
Seeds: These are rich in high quality protein and have a better amino acid balance than almost any other common vegetable protein. They even contain the lysine and methionine so often lacking in plant proteins. The seed also contains about 20% oil, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
Health Benefits of Amaranth
Antioxidant Activity: Most people pay attention to amaranth because of its high protein content, making it a crucial nutrient source for certain cultures, but there has been new research revealing that amaranth also contains a certain peptide that has also been identified in soybeans that can reduce inflammation in the body and even prevent the activity of free radicals that can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. This lesser-known benefit of amaranth is one of the most exciting new developments in recent amaranth research. This anti-inflammatory molecule can also help to alleviate conditions like arthritis, gout, and other inflammation-related issues.
Bone Development: Amaranth leaves contain a wide range of minerals, including a high concentration of calcium. There are very few leafy vegetables that contain a higher level of calcium, making amaranth a veritable super food in terms of boosting bone strength and preventing osteoporosis. Calcium is a crucial mineral for preventing demineralization of the bones, extending your “active life” well into your old age.
Digestive Health: There are a number of gastrointestinal benefits to eating amaranth, including its high fiber content, which results in smooth digestion of food and facilitates an efficient uptake of minerals. However, amaranth is also a gluten-free substance, which means that for the millions of people suffering from Celiac’s disease or gluten intolerance, amaranth provides a viable alternative as a grain source.
Cardiovascular Health: The dietary fiber mentioned above also helps to balance cholesterol in the body by eliminating “bad” cholesterol from the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, amaranth contains a huge amount of vitamin K, which is a well known booster for heart health. Finally, the potassium content in amaranth helps to lower blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels and reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system, thereby lowering the chances of developing atherosclerosis. The high content of phytosterols found in amaranth also contribute to a reduction in “bad” cholesterol.
Varicose Veins: While this condition may not affect everyone, varicose veins can be unsightly and embarrassing as we age. Amaranth contains numerous flavonoids, including rutin, which has been directly connected to eliminating varicose veins by strengthening capillary walls. This is also aided by amaranth’s high concentration of vitamin C, an integral component in the production of collagen, which also helps repair and strengthen blood vessel walls.
Vision Health: The significant level of carotenoids and vitamin A found in amaranth leaves is a major boost for eye health, as these antioxidants can prevent macular degeneration and slow/stop the development of cataracts. By lowering oxidative stress in the ocular system, amaranth can help keep your vision healthy and strong for years to come.
Birth Defects: Folate is often overlooked in terms of essential minerals, but it is particularly important for pregnant mothers. Folate deficiency can result in neural tube defects in newborns, so add some amaranth grains or leaves to your diet and protect your newest little addition to the family!
Weight Loss: Considering that an influx of protein in the diet releases a particular “sated” hormone that suppresses the appetite, eating amaranth grains and leaves can help you remain true to your weight loss goals. The dietary fiber is also bulky in your stomach and reduces your appetite, lowering your likelihood to snack between meals and pack on those extra pounds.
Hair Health: If you want to protect the integrity and appearance of your hair, amaranth contains a rare amino acid called lysine that the body cannot naturally produce. This increases your calcium uptake efficiency and helps to keep the hair on your head, strengthening follicles and preventing male pattern baldness. You can even remove the juice from the leaves and apply it to your hair after shampooing to further strengthen your hair and prevent hair loss.
A Final Word of Warning: Like some other green leafy vegetables, amaranth leaves do contain moderate levels of oxalates. For that reason, if you suffer from kidney stones or gallstones, amaranth could exacerbate these conditions. Allergies to amaranth are rare, but they do occasionally occur. The allergic reaction will often occur within minutes, but it is rarely severe. Be sure to consult a medical professional before adding amaranth into your diet and consider undergoing an allergy panel to be sure.
Beets: Detroit Dark Red (Heirloom) (Beta vulgaris)
Bergamot: Wild (Monarda fistulosa)
Cabbage: Early Jersey Wakefield (Heirloom) (Brassica oleracea var. capitata)
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Carrots: Chantenay Red Cored (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Cosmic Purple (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Danvers (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Rainbow Blend (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Scarlet Nantes (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Carrots: Tendersweet (Heirloom) (Daucus carota)
Chives: Garlic (Allium tuberosum)
Chives: Onion (Allium schoenoprasum var. album)
Corn: Country Gentleman-Open Pollinated (Heirloom) (Zea mays)
Coriander: Leisure (Coriandrum sativum)
Corn: Golden Bantam-Open Pollinated (Heirloom) (Zea mays)
Corn, Popcorn: Shaman's Blue (Hybrid) Open Pollinated (Zea mays)
Blue corn originated in the Andes Mountains of Peru, where the native peoples usually ground it into flour for cooking. Indians of Mexico and the southwestern United States also widely used this corn, since its dryness made it an excellent flour corn and gave it good resistance to disease. This exciting blue popcorn receives high marks for both visual and taste appeal. The unique blue/purple kernel pops into mounds of snow white popcorn that will satisfy any popcorn lover with its slightly sweet flavor.
Cosmos: Bright Lights (Cosmos sulphureus)
Cosmos: Candy Stripe (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Cosmos: Radiance (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Dill: Dukat (Anethum graveolens)
Eggplant: Black Beauty (Heirloom) (Solanum melongena var. esculentum)
Eggplant: Golden Egg (Solanum Melongena)
Ornamental Eggplant is a very unique tropical annual that produce purple flowers and egg-shaped, edible fruit that begin white and turn golden upon maturity. Excellent choices for pots and containers, ornamental hedge, or house plant.
Eggplant: Long Purple (Heirloom) (Solanum melongena)
This Italian heirloom eggplant, Long Purple, produces dark purple cucumber-shaped fruit with firm, mild flesh. Good yields, especially in northern climates! Plants will typically produce 4 or more 8-10" fruits with harvest beginning in 70 to 80 days. Average water needs. Some parts of plant are poisonous if ingested.
English Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Fennel: Florence (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum)
Marigolds: Naughty Marietta (Tagetes patula)
Marigolds: Sparky Mix French (Tagetes patula)
Marigold: White (Tagetes Erecta 'Kilimanjaro')
Commonly called African marigold, Aztec marigold, American marigold or big marigold, is native to Mexico and Central America. Big marigold may be the best descriptive name because plants are noted for their large flowerheads. They typically grow from 1-4’ tall and feature huge, mostly double-globular flowers (2-4” diameter) in various shades of yellow, orange, and whitish. This variety is unaffected by high summer heat and generally blooms throughout the summer.
Mint: Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium)
Nasturtiums: Empress of India (Tropaeolum minus)
Nasturtiums: Jewel Mix (Tropaeolum minus)
Onions: Evergreen White Bunching (Heirlooms) (Allium fistulosum)
Onions: Ruby Red (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Onions: Sweet Spanish White (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Onion: Sweet Spanish Yellow (Heirloom) (Allium cepa)
Parsley: Italian Giant (Heirloom) (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum)
Penstemon: Rocky Mountain (Penstemon strictus)
Pepper, Hot: Anaheim Chili (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Habanero (Heirloom) (Capsicum chinense)
Pepper, Hot: Hungarian Yellow Hot Wax (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Long Red Cayenne (Organic) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Jalapeno (Organic) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Serrano (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Hot: Tabasco (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: Banana (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: California Wonder 300 TMR Bell (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Pepper, Sweet: Purple Beauty Bell (Heirloom) (Capsicum annuum)
Poached Egg Plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
This native species was first discovered by David Douglas, a Scottish botanist commissioned to collect native American plants suitable for the gardens of Great Britain. The species name "douglasii" honors his discovery, while the genus name "Limnanthes" means "marsh flower" because of this plant's preference for moist soil. This fragrant butterfly magnet has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
Radish: Early Scarlet Globe (Heirloom) (Raphanus sativus)
Radish: German Giant (Heirloom) (Raphanus sativus)
Radish: Watermelon (Heirloom) (Raphanus sativus)
The Watermelon radish is a type of Japanese winter radish also known as a "daikon," which simply means "large root" in Japanese. Daikon radishes account for the largest percentage of any cultivated vegetable in Japan, and can be found in some form in nearly every meal of that country. Watermelon radishes, which orginated in north China near Beijing, are often served sweetened there as a dessert or fruit.