It is the most adorable flowering plant you’ve ever seen, omphrena (also known as globe amaranth). Long straight stems with small, brightly colored gumdrop-like blooms at the end make for an interesting plant in the garden and a lovely vase arrangement.
In spite of the fact that gomphrena does not stand out in the same way that its cousin amaranthus does in terms of height or size or shape, there are many things to appreciate about this plant nonetheless. There are many ways to incorporate this plant into your landscape, from the front of the border to the back. With its nearly indestructible nature and ability to go well with a wide range of materials, it makes an excellent cut flower.
Additionally, Gomphrena is a very easy plant to grow from seed; it is incredibly drought-resistant, hardy, and enjoys the heat and humidity.
Cultivation and History
Globe amaranth, also known as gomphrena, is a tropical plant that thrives in hot, humid climates and longs for direct sunlight.
Even though it can withstand dryness better than the typical plant because of its long taproot, this species prefers constant moisture, particularly during the germination and seedling stages.
It may grow in a variety of soil types, from loam to clay, as long as the drainage is good.
You may want to pluck some of the blossoms off of this plant early in the growing season to keep it from becoming overly lanky.
Various heights are available, with cultivars ranging from 6-inch dwarfs to enormous 4-footers.
These plants, which can reach heights of eight to 24 inches, are also compact, with a diameter of eight to 24 inches.
Vertical branching can be seen on the stems of the uprights. The leaves are covered with hairs and sometimes have a purple edge. In pairs, they grow next to each other.
Each terminal stalk bears a globe-shaped flower that measures between one and a half and two inches around.
A fun tidbit about G. globosa is that it utilizes a C4 carbon fixation pathway to obtain energy.
Aside from that, it’s genetically designed to “breathe” differently than many other plants, allowing it to conserve energy, retain moisture, and thrive in soils poor in nitrogen, which are common in tropical regions.
A wide range of diseases, from digestive issues to respiratory issues, have been treated by herbalists using gomphrena, which contains immune-boosting phytochemicals and antioxidant betacyanins.
In the 1700s, the plant was brought to the United States from Europe. Shadwell, where Jefferson grew up as a child, was a notable location for the cultivation of this plant.
Today, Monticello’s gardens are a standout for their floral displays.
Unlike many other plants, gomphrena’s flowers don’t fade or lose their shape with time. “Bozu” and “makhamali ful” continue to be used in traditional ceremonial garlands in Hawaii and Nepal, respectively, where they are known as such.
In Costa Rica, Cuba, and Hawaii, this species is considered invasive.
Seeds can be used to start new plants. Germination might take anywhere from two to four weeks, depending on the type of seed.
It’s also possible that many seeds won’t germinate because of the low rate at which they sprout. Between 85 and 100 days are required for a horse to reach full maturity.
The taproot of this plant is quite deep, and as little disturbance as possible should be made to it.
Soak seeds overnight and start seeds indoors eight weeks before the final typical spring frost date for both perennial and annual cultivation to obtain a head start on the growth season.
Seed starter cells made of biodegradable materials or cardboard egg cartons that can be split for planting are ideal. Each cell should only have around four seeds in it, because they are so small.
Potting media should cover them about one-eighth of an inch.
When the seedlings develop one or two sets of genuine leaves, thin them to one per cell.
The seedlings should be exposed to the elements for a few hours each day for three to five days before they are planted out.
After the risk of frost has gone, transplant the individual cells into the garden or deep pots.
Direct sowing seeds in the garden can also be used for perennials, but they may not flower until the following year.
How to Grow
Before transplanting seedlings into your garden, wait until the typical spring frost date has past before doing so. Zones 9 to 11 are frost-free zones for those who can direct sow.
Opt for an area that receives plenty of direct sunlight. If the soil is well-drained, it can be anything from biologically rich loam to clay.
It’s ideal to have a pH of between 6 and 7.5, which is slightly acidic to the tiniest touch of alkalinity, or 6.1 to 7.4.
An agricultural extension agency can help you get a better understanding of the soil on your property by doing a soil test. Compost can be used to raise the acidity, while lime can be used to lower it.
Work your garden soil until it reaches a crumbly consistency at least 12 inches deep for globe amaranth because of its lengthy taproot. Make changes as necessary.
When doing container gardening, keep the lengthy taproot in mind. In general, a larger pot is required for a taller plant. 12 to 24 inch depths are recommended.
Seeds should be sown one-eighth of an inch down. A few should be scattered every four to six inches and lightly covered in dirt.
Egg cartons can be split apart if necessary, and individual cells or biodegradable containers can be buried at the same depth as the soil in the cells to transplant thinned seedlings.
Adding fertilizer is unnecessary. Make sure to choose a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen if you regularly give your plants a dosage of nourishment, otherwise you may end up with a lot of leaves and few blossoms.
Don’t overdo it on the moisturizing, but make sure it’s even. A fungal disease known as “damping off” can cause sprouts to flop and die if they are exposed to too much water.
Thin the seedlings to 12 to 18 inches apart when they have one or two sets of genuine leaves. In addition to preventing fungal disease, good airflow helps.
Maintain a one-inch-per-week watering schedule for established plants, using a combination of rain and additional watering.
You prevent fungus from growing, make sure to wet the soil rather than the foliage using your hose or watering can.
In order to encourage bushier growth, nip off the initial flower buds as soon as you see them. Staking is sometimes necessary for plants that have become too leggy to support themselves.
In addition to preventing leggy development, deadheading or cutting flowers for arrangement on a regular basis throughout the growing season promotes more flowering as well.
In order to get the best results, you should take off part of a stem rather than simply a flower head.
Gomphrena is a tropical plant that thrives in the heat, but it also needs a lot of water. As a result, it is more tolerant to drought than other plants, yet it grows best in tropical climates.
Now that you’re ready to start your own garden, let’s go over a few things again:
- It takes time for seeds to germinate, so plant more and thin them down later.
- Tropical plants, as opposed to desert plants, necessitate a constant supply of moisture.
- There’s no need to use fertilizer, which can result in an abundance of leaves.
- It is important to keep the taproot undisturbed and to use deep pots.
Cultivars to Select
Because there are so many cultivars of G. globosa to choose from, the process of selecting one is enjoyable.
Consider the following:
The 18-inch stems of ‘Audray White’ sport crisp white flowers.
Plants of this medium size work nicely in the midst of beds and borders, as well as in pots.
Its neutral color makes it a good barrier between plants of varying hues and a visually appealing companion for all plants.
David’s Garden Seed Store sells 50-packet seed packs on Amazon.
Giant ‘Fireworks’ can measure up to 36 to 48 inches and may be exactly the ticket if you’re wanting to wow.
If you’re looking for a specimen planting that will draw attention from visitors, this is the plant for you.
Depending on your needs, Burpee may provide a starter kit with four plants or a packet of 30 seeds.
‘Gnome’ blooms in varying shades of pink, purple, and white bloom on low-profile plants that reach just six inches in height.
Sweethearts in the shape of cotton candy are a great choice for little containers and the fronts of borders.
True Leaf Market sells 1,000-seed packs of mixed ‘Gnome’ seeds.
Managing Pests and Disease
Pests and diseases don’t bother G. globosa much, and if you follow good gardening methods, you shouldn’t encounter any.
Sap-sucking insects, however, can be carriers of illness as well as devastate trees and shrubs with their appetites.
Here are two pests to keep an eye out for:
You can try using organic neem oil to get rid of them if you can’t get rid of them with a garden hose’s hard spray, though.
When conditions aren’t optimal, diseases like the ones listed below can develop:
- Leaf Spot Alternaria
- “Gray Mold” or “Botrytis Blight”
- Turning Off
- Mildew in a powdery form
On mature leaves, Alternaria leaf spot develops brown dead areas rimmed in yellow. When left unchecked, the entire leaf becomes brown and dies. Apply a fungicide and toss the infected leaves in the trash.
When a grey, fuzzy mold infects leaves, botrytis blight and powdery mildew do their damage.
Both can be treated with a fungicide and by removing the infected material and throwing it away.
Oversaturated sprouts are susceptible to the fungal disease known as “damping off,” which we covered in the growth section. It’s a fatal disease.
If you want to avoid getting infected, make sure you:
- Keeping plants in full sun will not only help them blossom, but it will also help them resist fungal growth by keeping the leaves dry.
- When planting, adhere to the recommended spacing. Moisture and fungal conditions are prevented by good airflow.
- To prevent pests from making your garden their home, you should weed it on a regular basis.
- To avoid oversaturating the foliage and making it fungus-prone, water the soil level rather than the foliage.
- Avoid overwatering your plants. The seedling stage is a critical time to keep the soil moist but avoid oversaturation.
It’s not ideal to have pests or diseases on your gomphrena leaves, but if you catch them early and remove them, the blooms may still look great.
In order to avoid swallowing sick or infested plant material when growing edible plants, you must use only treatment treatments that are meant for edibles.
To wrap things up, we’ll speak about how to collect and use various plant parts for both ornamental and culinary use.
Nonetheless, I’d like to caution you against eating a plant simply because it’s edible. If you have allergies or other health issues, talk to your doctor before trying something new because not every cuisine will agree with everyone.
Harvesting and Preserving
Although globe amaranth is usually planted as an aesthetic plant, all of its sensitive sprouts, young leaves and flowers as well as its roots and seeds can be harvested if desired.
Magenta blossoms can also be used as a natural food dye because of their deep hue.
You can consume the sprouts as microgreens and the fragile young leaves before they become tough and fuzzy.
Pinch off flower heads where they meet another stem or a pair of leaves at the base of their stems as desired. Those that are nearly, but not quite, open are the best.
When the season is over, you can get your hands on both the roots and the seeds.
Dig up the plant once it has stopped blooming and before the first frost to get to the roots.
The crown of the stems should be cut off.
Make sure the roots are free of dirt and mud before using.
A dry, tan blossom head is ready for harvesting the seeds. Pluck the chaff from the wheat and separate it from the grain with a light-colored cloth so you can see the snips.
Seeds from hybrid plants may not always germinate, and if they do, they may display qualities that are surprising to the grower and may not always reflect those of the parent plants.
Make a salad for lunch or put them in a stew for evening and enjoy the freshness of the vegetables immediately after picking.
Also, utilize fresh flowers as soon as they arrive. When steeped, they can be used as beautiful garnishes or an earthy tea.
To preserve the beauty of flowering stems by drying them at their height,
As soon as the blooms are fully opened, cut the stems. Let us know if you’d want to include plants in the bud or half-open stage. Don’t buy flowering plants that are losing color and going to seed.
It’s entirely up to you whether or not to remove the foliage.
Gather the stems in a bouquet-style arrangement.
To hang them from a hook or nail, tie them together using twine, leaving long tails for hanging.
Allow them to dry for three to four weeks before hanging them up. Even though the plant’s branches and leaves will turn brown, the flowers will keep their bright colors.
You can use the whole stems in floral arrangements, and you can also snip off the flower heads to make potpourri sachets, tea, or dye.
In an airtight container, dried flower heads can last for a year. If they look to be spoiling, toss them, just like seeds.
Carrots and other root vegetables, such as edible roots, are common household fare. They can keep for a few days in the fridge, depending on their thickness, before going limp and becoming unpleasant.
If you preserve the seeds in an airtight container, they should last for a year. Discard anything that have become discolored, moldy, or odorous.
Best Ornamental Uses
There are six-inch dwarf variants to four-foot giants of G. globosa that are ideal for beds and borders, pots, rock gardens and xeriscaping as well as window boxes that receive full sunlight.
All sizes can be used in wreaths and perpetual arrangements, as well as cutting flowers for summer and fall centerpieces.
Before filling your containers with potting soil, make sure they have appropriate drainage holes.
These hardy, bright blossoms will brighten any space they find a home in. To get the most out of them, mix them with these plants that have similar needs:
- Peonies from Mexico
As long as you have G. globosa in your yard, you may expect to see a slew of useful pollinators flying around.
Robust and Everlasting
G. globosa is a terrific annual plant investment in the Northeast since it adds rich, saturated color and texture to my summer-to-frost gardens.
When it comes to arranging flowers and greenery from the garden, I particularly prefer those that retain their brilliant hues even after drying.
Take out your garden planner and figure out where to put globe amaranth in your garden. It can brighten up any place, whether it’s used as an aesthetic plant or a source of food.
How well has the globe amaranth fared in your household so far? If you’ve had any experience with this perennial, please share it in the comments below.
1. SELECT YOUR VARIETY
Gomphrena can be divided into two distinct species, each of which has a distinct appearance.
Gomphrena globosa is the first one. It’s a lovely tiny plant with a branching stem and several clover-like flowers at the ends of each stalk. I find that it’s not the most ideal flower for cutting because of its short stems and its fragile nature, which makes harvesting and working with it a bit more difficult because it tends to shatter. These include Audray, “Bicolor Rose,” “Ping Pong Mix,” and “Fireworks,” which has chive-like fuchsia-pink blooms and is highly productive and floriferous.
Gomphrena haageana, which has long, straight stems, is the second kind that I choose since it’s more durable and can be used in designs that call for a more flowing, organic shape (I find G. globosa extremely fragile to work with). The ‘QIS’ series, ‘Strawberry Fields,’ and ‘Las Vegas’ mix are all G. haageana varieties.
All of these plants can be used for landscaping purposes, with the two most common varieties, G. globosa and G. haageana, producing a great deal of floral power. G. globosa ‘Fireworks,’ on the other hand, grows taller and has a less bushy appearance than other types, therefore I propose planting it towards the front of the border where it will be seen easily.
I prefer to combine my favorite summer annuals with gomphrena, such zinnias and amaryllis, to create a color combination that is like nothing else I’ve ever seen in the garden: bronze, mauve, scarlet, and deep weedy green in a swath of color that is the epitome of summer.
For market bouquets and little posies, I suggest G. haageana, especially the variety ‘Strawberry Fields,’ which has fiery red blossoms and dries to a wonderful blush-pink color that is very gentle and muted.’
If you’re looking for something a little more understated, I’d suggest G. globosa, specifically the white-colored ‘Audray’ gomphrena. Flowers like these can be used as either a little accent or a pseudo-filler in a bouquet or arrangement, depending on how many bushy stems you pack into the design. It’s ideal for weddings because of its adaptability, but it may also be used in mixed bouquets, especially when paired with other white/pale-colored flowers like Cosmos ‘Purity’ or Dahlia ‘Bride to Be’.
2. STARTING GOMPHRENA FROM SEED
Gomphrena, like other Amarantheaceae plants like amaranthus and celosia, is quite simple to grow from seed. All you need to do is provide it with heat and light.
In cell trays or soil blocks, insert the gomphrena seed on the soil’s surface (to assist it receive light) and then water it thoroughly. It’s possible to accelerate things up by using a heat mat to maintain the soil at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or if it’s warm enough outside you can even start them off in cells that are exposed to sunlight.
The greatest stems for cutting will come from a dense planting of gomphrena, so I’d propose creating a shallow trench (about 1/2″ deep) and spacing your seeds out every six inches or so. Water the seeds once they’ve been placed in the soil with a little push. If you want your seeds to germinate rapidly and avoid being eaten or rotting, you’ll need a soil temperature of at least 50 F.
As soon as Gomphrena germinates, it will send up fuzzy tiny leaves that are as endearing as the plant itself. As soon as they are exposed to heat, they will develop rapidly, filling out a cell or soil block in a matter of weeks.
3. CULTIVATING GOMPHRENA
Gomphrena is a fast-growing plant that thrives in full light and warm temperatures.
As long as they get some water and fertilizer from time to time, they’ll do OK. We don’t generally stake ours because our plants are so compact that they are able to support each other.
This is a wonderful sign, because it means you’ll see the plant become lanky and stretching out – which is great, because those are flower stalks! – as it grows. When the stalks begin to create little flower buds at the ends of the stems, they are ready to be harvested for use as cut flowers. They will continue to grow and branch.
4. HARVESTING GOMPHRENA
For me, harvesting gomphrena is a lot of joy because the blooms are very hardy! Although the stems soon wilt if picked in warmer weather, they are essentially a dry, papery bract-like flower, comparable to strawflower or winged everlasting.
Gomphrena harvesting can be difficult due to the large number of stems, and cutting individual stems can be a great pain. Cut the entire branch or stem off at the plant’s base instead; this saves you from having to travel from a flower all the way to the plant’s base, as well as ensuring that you get nice long stems in the future (you always cut to the plant’s base when you cut flowers to ensure that the plant sends out nice long stems from its base in the future).
Trim the stem, shorten it and remove its leaves if necessary, although it is best to remove the plant first so that cutting can begin.
The gomphrena that we gather for florists and the farmers’ market will be rubber banded at the stem and placed in a bucket of water. It’s best to gather them in a separate area if we’re intending to include them in our designs; the thin and numerous stems can easily get trapped in other stems, leading to a messy situation. Unlike other flowers, gomphrena does not require a hydration period prior to use in design.
Harvesting gomphrena regularly is really important. To avoid this, you’ll need to trim the stems of the blooms, which will cause them to elongate and seem scorched at the ends. Your buyers may not enjoy the look of these dry arrangements, so be careful you cut the flowers when they are as round and fresh as possible.
You can expect Gomphrena to keep producing until the first frost, but they are not hardy, so you should be prepared to lose them when the weather turns cold.
5. DESIGNING WITH GOMPHRENA
Gomphrena’s long and straight stems and striking colors and linear form make it difficult to create with. It’s not a problem if you’re constructing market bouquets and include other vividly colored flowers, but its strong personality as a flower may prove problematic if you’re utilizing it in wedding work and more subtle design.
Bicolor Rose and Audray are our preferred colors for wedding work because of their more subdued hues rather than the brighter variations like QIS Carmine, Purple, Orange and Strawberry Fields.
The vibrant colors of Strawberry Fields and QIS purple are frequently used in our market bouquets and CSA subscriptions. Protruding them in and among other flowers is a great method to create more’mounded’ arrangements. If we leave the stems poking out, they merely hang out awkwardly on their own.
Gomphrena’s straight stems can draw too much attention and detract from the design’s overall form, so use caution when using them. In most cases, it’s preferable to utilize it when it can be tucked in and amongst other flowers, rather than as the centerpiece.
Gomphrena, which has wonderful color and form, is a great addition to dried arrangements and wreaths in the winter because it adds a dash of color and structure. All of the colors fade from fuchsia to bright rose, red to blush-pink, orange to salmon, and white to ivory.
GOMPHRENA ARE HAPPINESS EPITOMIZED IN A PLANT
Gomphrena are such generous plants that require very little care. They can be utilized in the garden, as a cut flower, or as a wreath. We cultivate these joyful little plants every year because they are sturdy, drought-resistant, low-maintenance, and provide a stunning burst of color.