Love lies bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) is a short-lived frost-tender plant, popular in summer bedding displays. It’s easy to grow and bears showy, tassel-like crimson flowers, contrasting with fresh, green leaves. In common with other varieties of amaranthus, love lies bleeding is edible, although it’s mostly grown as an ornamental plant.
In frost-free countries, the plant can be invasive but this is not an issue in the UK. Love lies bleeding makes a good cut flower and can also be dried for arrangements.
Growing love lies bleeding is also a great way of growing your own wild bird food – birds love to eat the seeds.
How to grow love lies bleeding
Despite its exotic looks, love lies bleeding is easy to grow from seed. Either sow under cover in early spring for early summer colour or direct in the soil outdoors. Choose the plant for flower and foliage interest as part of a bedding scheme in borders with similarly exotic-looking flowers like dahlias, zinnias and sunflowers. Smaller varieties can be grown in pots.
Love lies bleeding: jump links
- Sowing love lies bleeding
- Caring for love lies bleeding
- Growing love lies bleeding: problem-solving
- Buying love lies bleeding
Where to grow love lies bleeding
Grow love lies bleeding in full sun in any soil, including poor soil. Site in the middle of a border, either in groups, mixed with other colourful annuals to create a summer bedding display or in gaps in borders between long-lived hardy plants. For harvesting, either grow among ornamental plants, in an edible garden or raised beds.
How to sow love lies bleeding
- Start seeds under cover around March, sowing onto moist seed compost. Avoid covering compost as the seeds need light to germinate. Instead, cover with a thin layer of perlite or use polythene or a propagator to ensure seed doesn’t dry out.
- Keep at a temperature of 20°C for seed to germinate reliably.
- Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into individual small pots or modular trays and grow on until sufficiently large to plant out.
Alternatively, direct sow outside into moist soil in mid to late spring. Thin seedlings to between 30-60 cm apart.
How to plant love lies bleeding
- Harden off plants growing under cover to acclimatise them to the outside before planting out in late spring or early summer once the frosts are past.
- Plant into soil that is not too rich, spacing plants 30-60cm apart depending on size.
- Water in immediately after planting.
Caring for love lies bleeding
After planting out, keep watered during dry spells for the first few weeks until established and then water only during dry weather. Direct-sown plants need only an occasional thorough watering if the weather is dry.
Growing love lies bleeding: problem-solving
Love lies bleeding is mostly trouble-free to grow. Virus diseases can occur when plants develop pale, unhealthy or mottled leaves: there is no cure and affected plants should be destroyed. Because aphids transmit viruses, inspect plants regularly – small infestations can be controlled by hand-squashing or by simple chemical-free methods.
Advice on buying love lies bleeding
- Love lies bleeding is usually grown from seed, but you may find young plug plants available online in spring
- Check that you have the right spot to grow love lies bleeding – it needs a sunny spot
Where to buy love lies bleeding online
Best varieties to grow
Amaranthus caudatus ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ – usually grown as an ornamental. Small, deep red flowers form eye-catching hanging tassels. The flowers can be cut and used fresh or dried.
Height x Spread: 1m x 50cm
Amaranthus caudatus ‘Fat Spike’ – as its name suggests, this variety produces large, upright spikes of crimson flowers. Can be grown as an ornamental or for eating.
H x S: 1.2m x 60cm
Amaranthus caudatas ‘Crimson Fountains Mixed’ – an edible/ornamental variety. The beautiful crimson, pompon tassels look especially beautiful as a cut flower.
H x S: 75cm x 40cm