Amaranth is a hearty, ancient grain that was cultivated centuries ago by the Aztecs as a food staple.
Recently, growers from a wide variety of climates have rediscovered its usefulness and how easy it is to grow.
Native to Central and South America, this plant can still make a great crop for growers in other climates if tended to correctly.
Can you grow amaranth from seed? Amaranth is quite easy to grow from seed. For best results, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. Use a light seed starting mix, and keep seedlings consistently watered and under a bright light once they emerge. After frost threats have passed, transplant to the garden.
If you live in an area that experiences cold weather at points during the year, it can be difficult to know how to adapt the growing habits and practices for plants that are native to warmer, more tropical regions.
However, if you want to cultivate amaranth, the good news is that it’s extremely easy, even if you don’t live in its native regions.
Keep reading to learn the steps for cultivating a large, healthy crop of amaranth every year, regardless of your region.
How To Grow Amaranth From Seed
Whether you want to grow this plant to harvest its grain or for the beautiful, bushy appearance that some varieties can have, these steps will help you get there.
1. Select Your Seed Variety
Amaranth comes in a variety of colors and sizes, and some varieties have different uses, so choosing the right one to match your needs is crucial.
Some varieties, like Hopi Red Dye, grow up to 5 feet tall, need full sun, and sport a deep, beautiful magenta-red color. The leaves are edible as well as the fuzzy-looking seed clusters.
Red or Purple Amaranth is another giant commonly growing to 6 feet and is cultivated for edible leaves and seeds, which are an excellent source of protein.
Other varieties can be as small as 2 feet tall and come in many colors.
Whether you’re choosing an ornamental variety or you’re planning to harvest, pick a variety that will do well in the area you plan to transplant it.
In general, the ideal growing conditions for amaranth include bright, full sun and light, well-draining soil, so prepare a spot in the garden that will be ready for your seedlings.
2. Start Your Seeds Indoors
If you live in an area that gets frost, start your seeds indoors anywhere from six to eight weeks before the projected last frost.
Since amaranth is a tropical-zone plant that’s susceptible to frost, starting indoors will give it a head start and help it survive until warmer weather.
Sow your seeds evenly in well-draining seed starter soil (this is the one I use, and I always get great results!) and cover them with another thin layer of soil.
Keep indoor temperatures steady at no less than 60℉. You should start to see sprouts within two weeks.
Make sure the seedlings get plenty of light while indoors by placing them on a windowsill or providing fluorescent grow lights, like these fully adjustable seedling lights, at a height of around 3 inches above the seedlings.
You can keep the lights on for a maximum of 16 hours a day.
At around four weeks, you can fertilize your seedlings with diluted fertilizer. Use an indoor plant fertilizer (I like this organic plant food) at half strength (just add water) to help give your amaranth an extra boost.
3. Transplant to the Garden
Once the threat of frost has passed, you can transplant your seedlings to the spot you’ve prepared in the garden.
Before planting though, make sure the seedlings have grown accustomed to outdoor conditions by moving the seeding container outdoors for about a week before transplant time.
When it’s time to plant, till your soil to a depth of 8 inches and level it out, removing stones, tilled-up roots, or clumps.
Place your seedlings about 1 1/2 feet apart with the knowledge that many varieties can grow pretty bushy!
Make sure that any soil you add is quick to drain so as not to invite any root rot, which these plants can be susceptible to if left too wet.
How Long Does It Take Amaranth Seeds To Germinate?
In their natural environment, with temperatures around 70℉, it takes amaranth anywhere from seven to 10 days to germinate.
When sprouting inside, it can take a little longer, sometimes up to two weeks.
How Long Does Amaranth Take To Grow?
Amaranth is a beautiful plant to watch growing all summer long. It usually takes around three months for this plant to grow and be ready for harvest.
In that time, many varieties will have grown over 5 feet tall and will sport beautiful, deep colors and fuzzy-looking plumage that will bear its edible seeds.
Can You Grow Amaranth From Cuttings?
This easy-going plant will propagate from stem cuttings. Simply take a 4-inch-long section of the stem that has up to four leaves present.
Place the bottom either in water or soil, covering it up to 2 inches, and wait for the plant to root.
Can Amaranth Grow in Pots?
All varieties of amaranth will grow in pots, although you’ll want to carefully match the pot size to the variety you plant to assure that the plant will thrive.
As some cultivars can grow extremely tall, choose a container that will support its roots as well as its height, and place the container in an area protected from the wind.
Did you know that amaranth seeds are great for growing as microgreens? They’re packed with nutrition, tasty, and easy to grow!
Want to know more about cultivating amaranth? Keep reading for answers to more of your questions!
What Can I Plant Near Amaranth?
Eggplant’s growth pattern is perfect for spacing between your amaranth plants, and beans and peas are great companion plants because they replenish the soil with nitrogen, which amaranth needs.
Another common garden companion plant is the marigold, which wards off scavenging bugs and keeps crop plants like amaranth from being nibbled on.
Is Amaranth the Same as Pigweed?
Pigweed is a common name for amaranth because of its history as a livestock feed. However, in North America, one particular indigenous variety of amaranth is referred to specifically as pigweed.
This variety is Amaranthus palmeri, and although it’s considered a weed, it’s still edible!
Whether it’s grown for its beautiful color and textured plumage or as a crop, amaranth is an easy plant to cultivate and can light up your garden year after year.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have beautiful amaranth plants even if you don’t live in tropical zones.