It’s always fun to try a new flowering plant in the garden. A couple of years ago I started Amaranth caudatus or Love Lies Bleeding in the greenhouse. I only planted a dozen seeds to see how they would do. The seeds are easy to grow and I would recommend starting them inside so you have good-sized seedlings to go in the garden when the temperatures have warmed. The long reddish-pink tassels of flowers on four-foot high stems make this a statement plant for the garden. Although it’s an annual it will often self seed and come back for you the following year. Its one of those flowers that you can’t resist touching. Its like the plant has a ponytail that needs to be combed. Sometimes the flowers can be up to a foot long or more. Amaranth caudatus loves full sun so give it as much as you can for best results.
I am a seed saver so at the end of the garden season I watched carefully as the amaranth flowers started to fade. They start to change to a light brown colour and you want to remove the spent flowers before the seeds drop to the ground. The above photo shows you how the flower clusters look when harvesting them for seed.
I bring the seeds inside and pop them into a large envelope to dry until I am ready to sort the chaff from the seed. Now if you look at the plate of brown stuff above, you are probably wondering where the seeds are. It’s not the brown fluff or chaff. The seed has to be worked out of the chaff.
Now you can sit down and painstakingly pick out the seeds but lets look at an easier way to do this. This way requires too much time. What you want to do is grab a small handful of the brown fluff or chaff and massage it in your hands for a minute. I tend to roll the chaff between my fingers until I can feel the seeds. The massaging of the chaff tends to loosen the seeds and you can place the chaff back on a new plate. I use a large dinner plate for this as it has a bit of a lip on the edge.
Once you have massaged the chaff and placed it on a plate, cup your hands around the outside of the plate and lightly blow on the chaff. If you look above you will see how the brown chaff blows to the back of the plate leaving the seeds exposed. Yes, it can be messy and you could do it outside. Problem is you may end up with a few seeds blowing into the garden. I found once you get the hang of this blowing procedure the mess is pretty minimal.
Once you can see the seeds on the plate, scoop them into an envelope for storage in a cool, frost-free area. Here you can see the seeds in the center of the plate. Seeds are heavier than the chaff and remain after the chaff has been blown away.
Once I had all the seeds separated, this is how many seeds I had to pack up. They are so tiny but I look forward to planting them in the spring. If you would like to grow Amaranth, seed is available in my Etsy shop here or at your garden centres in the spring.