If you aren't familiar with annual gomphrena flowers, there are several reasons to get to know this low care landscape plant. Children love to pluck the cheerful flowering globes of gomphrena in the garden, as the spiky puffs have that tactile appeal. The purple, pink, white, or red flowers of the globe amaranth also draw butterflies, but deer tend to pass them by. Globe amaranth flowers are excellent candidates for drying for potpourri and crafts, but they’re just as nice from the cutting garden for fresh flower arrangements. Don’t be surprised if you find that the cut flowers have started to root in the vase when you discard your flower arrangement; that’s how easy these plants are to grow.
Like other members of the Amaranthaceae family, globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) can grow as an annual in any frost-free zone, but grows best in areas with hot summers. Depending on the variety, you can expect the plants to achieve a height of one to three feet, with a width of about a foot.
How to Plant Globe Amaranth
You can start globe amaranth from seed, but the plants take about eight weeks from seed to flower, so start seeds indoors in late winter for earliest blooms. Plant many more seeds than you you need, as germination rates are low. You may increase your germination success by using an electric heat mat. Don't worry about spending money to buy enough seeds for your flowerbed, it’s easy to collect seed from globe amaranth flowers at the end of the growing season; you can find a seed at the base of each petal.
Globe amaranth grows best in full sun to partial shade. Too much shade reduces blooming and makes plants lanky. Gomphrena grows well in average garden soil to slightly sandy soil. Plants still bloom in heavy clay but height may be somewhat stunted. Globe amaranth tolerates wet or dry conditions, but don’t plant in areas with standing water.
Globe Amaranth Maintenance and Care
Globe amaranth is a low maintenance flower. The plants are light feeders, and if you mulch them with compost, you won’t need to fertilize them at all. Gomphrena is virtually pest-free, but mildew can sometimes be a problem on crowded plants. Globe amaranth will bloom freely throughout the season without deadheading, but you will probably want to add some of these long-lasting blooms to your vase, so shear away.
Garden Design With Globe Amaranth
You can find many uses for this tidy annual in your flower garden. Plant globe amaranth at the front or middle of the flower border, where it shines as a companion alongside flowers with similar growing requirements, like zinnias and celosia.
If you find that globe amaranth grows well in your garden, then consider planting other garden amaranth varieties with it, as they all thrive in the same growing conditions of hot sunshine and average soil and moisture conditions. A green amaranth variety like 'Green Thumb' or 'Emerald Tassels' is on point when planted beside the contrasting purple blooms of gomphrena.
Globe amaranth works well in container gardens as a tall accent plant. Combine it with a mounding plant like vinca, and a trailing plant like petunias for a full, lush look. Include globe amaranth in your butterfly garden, or grow globe amaranth with other flowers that you can dry for crafts, like paper daisy or statice.
In addition to its important role as an attractant for pollinators, globe amaranth belongs in the vegetable garden as an edible flower. Though the stiff blooms aren't exactly pleasing to the palate, the fresh or dried blossoms produce a vibrant pink hot tea with a mild grassy flavor. In fact, the stiff, uniform flowers of globe amaranth make it a popular featured ingredient in blooming tea pots.
Suggested Globe Amaranth Varieties
Although the common globe amaranth is a pleasing magenta color, improved cultivars with a variety of heights and hues exist in the marketplace. 'All Around Purple' features compact, container-ready plants with rich magenta blooms. One of the taller varieties at 3 feet, 'Bicolor Rose' sports deep lavender flowers with a white cap. No Victorian cottage garden should be without 'Lavender Lady,' whose dusky pink flowers pair well with white or pastel blooms in the landscape. Gardeners who appreciate a riot of colors should try the gomphrena 'QIS Formula Mix,' which includes pink, orange, red, purple, and white blooms. Craving red? Include gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields, with bright red poms on 3-foot plants. Finally, the hot pink 'Fireworks' globe amaranth gives us a departure from the usual tight flower form of the typical gomphrena, instead producing blooms with an open form, resembling little firecrackers.