Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Globe amaranth or Gomphrena has become a favorite summer floral material within the last few decades. Now, numerous varieties of this cut flower and everlasting are available.
Gomphrena is the Latin name for this annual. It is noted for its unusually shaped flower heads. Opening in compact heads about an inch across, the shape resembles that of pink clover. The fluffy, individual blossoms are rather tiny. They donít seem to have any petals. Globe amaranth comes in an assortment of colors, including pink, red, and orange as well as purple and white.
In addition to being a fresh floral, globe amaranth has become a popular everlasting. This flower is used fresh in bouquets and in all sorts of dried flower arrangements. As fresh flowers, their vase life is usually over a week.
Generally available in the summer months, these are related to the celosia or cockscomb.
Apparently the globe amaranth originated in India, and was introduced to England in the early 1700ís.
The ancient Greeks considered the plant to be a symbol of immortality. The poet Homer described the funeral of Achilles where those present wore garlands of this flower. The Latin name Gomphrena means club-shaped in reference to the flowers.
For cutting gardens, it is easy to start globe amaranth from seed. These take about six to eight days to germinate. As with plants that are originally from dry areas, they prefer a well drained soil. This takes drought very well. It prefers full sun, and is mostly pest and disease free.
Globe amaranth will start blooming several months from the time the seeds are planted. They will continue throughout the summer. Be sure and harvest all the stems before frost.
There are numerous varieties available, including dwarf and tall ones. For fresh flowers and everlastings, longer-stemmed ones are preferred. Tall kinds include Gomphrena All Around Purple. This one has numerous branched stems. Reaching two feet in height, it has dark purple blossoms.
Gomphrena Flashing Light grows to about 1Ĺ feet in height. The large flowers are a striking red.