Green Thumb | This plant needs little love

UNUSUAL: Next to the horticulture classrooms at Wodonga TAFE, this Love Lies Bleeding is in full flower in a raised garden bed.​ The plant loves sunny spots but can thrive in poor, well-drained soils.

UNUSUAL: Next to the horticulture classrooms at Wodonga TAFE, this Love Lies Bleeding is in full flower in a raised garden bed.​ The plant loves sunny spots but can thrive in poor, well-drained soils.

This unusual eye-catching and extremely ornamental annual plant with the botanical name Amaranthus caudatus, goes by the strange common name Love Lies Bleeding. 

Popular in Victorian gardens it is said to represent hopelessness or hopeless love and it’s religious significance hints at Jesus’ compassion and sacrifice.

Don’t plant Amaranthus caudatus now, as this is when the plant finishes its life cycle and ultimately dies. 

It’s a warm-season annual plant and seeds should be planted when frosts have all but finished – about September in our region.  It will take about three months for the flowers to appear, and what a show they put on.

The flowers, resembling red or reddish-purple velvet cords, are made up of thousands of very small flowers clustered together. They begin in summer and persist right through the autumn and even into early winter if it’s mild. This plant is perfect for the non-green-thumbed among us because they require very little care.  Just add regular water while the seedlings are growing and you’ll find that once they’re established they are quite drought-resistant. 

They love a position with plenty of sun and they’ll grow in quite poor soils, but they do need the soil to be well-drained.  It may surprise you but the best flowers seem to be produced from plants in poor soils. 

This is also a great plant for attracting butterflies and other pollinators, but can become fairly large (around one metre plus) so make sure you give it room to grow and look its best.  It’s brilliant for adding texture to any garden and there are a number of cultivars available, one with multi-coloured leaves and even one with green tassels.

If you have limited space, try growing this plant in a pot or even in hanging baskets.  The tassels can be dried and used in arrangements.

A word of warning – each plant can produce approximately 100,000 seeds, seeds which happily drop from the tassels into your garden.  Very quickly you will end up with masses of young seedlings. 

The seed is easy to collect – just pop a paper bag over the tassel for a day or two and you’ll soon have quite a few to keep for planting in the spring. Love Lies Bleeding is ideal for old-fashioned gardens and borders and it’s a superb feature plant.  The example growing at Wodonga TAFE has stopped many people in their tracks.

DIARY: The AgVet Chemical Users Course is the industry standard for training in chemical use, storage and handling.  Wodonga TAFE will be running the AgVet Chemical Users Course on July 17 and 24 (2-day course).  Cost is $360.  For more information ring 1300 MY TAFE (1300 69 8233) or email info@wodongatafe.edu.au