Amaranthus tricolor. Also known as Chinese spinach. This heat lover is a very nutritious leaf vegetable. This variety has large, fleshy, pale-green or burgundy and green leaves that can be enjoyed raw in salads. They can also be cooked quickly, faster than spinach. Plant Red Leaf amaranth seeds in early summer in warm soil with good drainage. Enjoy as micro-greens, baby leaf salad greens, or full size cooked greens. The flavour pairs well with garlic and oyster sauce. The plants reach about waist high before flowering in late summer. Be sure to harvest before the flowering stage for the best flavour.
Matures in 40-60 days. (Open-pollinated seeds)
Whether you’re growing amaranth from seed for its nutritious leaves or its high-protein, gluten-free grains, it is easy to grow if you can provide warm soil and lots of sunlight. Amaranth is closely related to quinoa, but also beets, Swiss chard, and many other food crops. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Amaranth Seeds Guide and grow edible grains.
Amaranthus sp. (Many species are edible).
We Recommend: Burgundy Grain Amaranth (MU551). This variety has very tasty, nutritious immature leaves, but can also be grown to produce grain – and it is very productive in this respect.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season. Amaranth is very much a summer crop.
Exposure: Full sun.
Zone: Will produce reliably in Zones 7 and up. Needs a nice hot summer for its entire growth period of 40-50 days.
Direct sow in late May to early June. Optimal soil temperature: 18-24°C (65-75°F).
Sow seeds 5mm (¼”) deep in well drained soil in full sun. Seeds should germinate in 4 to 10 days. Thin seedlings to 25-35cm (10-14″) apart in rows 50cm (20″) apart.
Ideal pH: 6.0-7.5. Keep moist until germinated, and then simply keep the area weeded.
Pick baby or mature greens as needed. Simply cut them with scissors as you would mescluns. The leaves have an appealing, nutty flavour. If growing for seed, choose A. hypochondriacus and provide ample spacing. Seed will ripen in late summer or early fall. Watcgh for birds visiting the plants. Rub the flower heads between your hands over a bucket or tray. Doing this into paper yard waste bags works well. If the seeds do not fall easily, leave the plants for one more week and try again.
In optimum conditions at least 70% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 1.5M seeds, per acre: 392M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Watch for slug/snail damage to young plants. Amaranth is not prone to pest damage.
Plant with corn to shade the soil and retain water. Amaranth attracts predatory ground beetles.
More on Companion Planting.