About Love-Lies-Bleeding: As a decorative flower, Love-Lies-Bleeding grew in many Victorian English gardens; in the language of flowers, it represents hopeless love. In addition to producing lovely flowers, Love-Lies-Bleeding is a form of the grain-producing plant known as amaranth. A staple grain for the Aztecs and Incas, amaranth was referred to as the "golden grain of the gods" and used in religious rituals. The plant nearly died out when the Spanish Conquistadors declared their religious practices barbaric, and made growing amaranth a capital offense. Today, both the leaves and the seeds of amaranth are an important food source in many parts of the world. This unique grain provides an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as being very rich in protein.
Love-Lies-Bleeding Germination: Direct sow when the outdoor soil temperature reaches 70 degrees. This plant grows best in full sun and well drained soil. It tolerates drought conditions and poor soil, but cannot grow in the shade. Once the seedlings appear, thin them to 18-24" apart to allow for their tall growth. The seed can also be started indoors 6-8 weeks before planting; sow just below the surface of a flat, and keep the temperature and moisture consistent until germination. Transplant as soon as the plants can be safely handled, placing them 18-24" apart.
Growing Love-Lies-Bleeding Seeds: Keep young seedlings moist until they become established. Once the plants are mature, only water if drought conditions persist, since they prefers dry soil and too much moisture can cause damage and disease. Because each plant usually produces around 100,000 seeds, they can be invasive if allowed to drop their seed. However, volunteer plants have shallow roots and can easily be removed. This plant attracts butterflies and bees. It makes an excellent container plant, and adapts well to hanging baskets.
Harvesting Love-Lies-Bleeding: Fresh leaves, which provide many vitamins and minerals, can be harvested at any time and used much like spinach. The seeds can be harvested as soon as the tassels dry slightly and begin to turn color; strip the seeds from the stem into a container, and winnow to remove the chaff. For fresh cut flowers, cut the stems when most of the tiny buds on the tassels have opened; the blossoms will last 7-10 days in a vase. For dried flowers, cut the stems and hang them upside down in a very warm, dark place for at least 10 days. The flowers will turn a bronze color when dried.
Saving Love-Lies-Bleeding Seeds: The flower tassels will begin to dry and turn a slightly different color when the seed is ripe. The seed can vary in color, but usually is pinkish red. Strip the mature seed from the stems and winnow it to remove the chaff. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Love-Lies-Bleeding Info: Origin: Africa, India, Peru Other Common Names: Tassel Flower, Velvet Flower, Pendant Amaranth, Foxtail Amaranth, Quilete Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Summer-Early Fall Height: 36” to 48” Spacing: 18” to 24” Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 4a-9b Germination: No pre-treatment needed. Sow seeds just below soil surface at 75F and water. Seeds Per Oz: 50,000 Produces large oval, light green leaves and bright red, drooping tassels up to 2' long.