Gomphrena produces colorful flowers now til frost

Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D.

Fireworks gomphrena has a taller growth habit than other varieties. (Photo by Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter)

Las Vegas Pink gomphrena provides abundant flowers in the July heat. (Photo by Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter)

The Qis Carmine variety of gomphrena offers a unique flower color. (Photo by Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 07/24/15

By Allen Owings

LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – A tough plant that will keep blooming through summer and into fall, gomphrena likes really high temperatures. Also called globe amaranth, legend has it that the original planting was at the gates of Hades.

Known botanically as Gomphrena globosa, gomphrenas produce flowers from early summer until the first frost. The flowers look a lot like clover, seem to last forever and have a straw-like texture. The flower heads are actually bracts, which are leaves resembling petals. Flower colors include white, purple, pink and lavender along with some occasional red, orange and carmine-colored varieties.

Globe amaranth is an attractive plant, and the new varieties are “wow” factors in the landscape. Try some if you have not already. These plants have not been awarded a Louisiana Super Plant designation by the LSU AgCenter, but we highly recommend them.

Gomphrena varieties are ever-increasing in abundance. Available series include Qis, All Around, Audray, Las Vegas, Buddy and Gnome.

All Around Purple gomphrena was named a Mississippi Medallion plant in 2008. This 2-foot-tall plant attracts loads of butterflies to its purple flowers all summer long. We have had good performance with this variety in LSU AgCenter landscape trials.

Another gomphrena, Fireworks, was a Mississippi Medallion selection a few years back and also does great in Louisiana. It is a large plant that can reach 4 feet tall. Its iridescent pink bracts feature yellow stamens resembling tiny exploding firecrackers. This variety is incredibly impressive. It blooms non-stop in Louisiana from spring planting through fall. Nothing slows it down, and butterflies swarm the plant almost constantly.

Gomphrena can be big, flowering annuals in the landscape, although some gomphrenas are suitable for smaller garden or patio spaces. The Gnome series are compact plants that grow 10 to 12 inches tall and have white, pink and purple flowers. This compact selection makes a fine container plant or border plant along a sunny path.

Gomphrena need full sun. They will sometimes tolerate a partial-sun to partial-shade location, especially into late summer, but flower production is best in full sun. Plants need well-drained locations. Once established, they are somewhat drought-tolerant. Watering is only needed during one-to-two-week periods with little rain. Finally, this plant has relatively few pest problems.

Gomphrena make great cut flowers and have a long vase life. Cut stems early in the morning and pair them with other flowers from your garden.

You can plant gomphrena through summer to enjoy nice blooms in your landscape this fall. If you cannot locate any now, consider planting them next year in mid-to-late spring – that is the time they are most widely available at garden centers.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren

7/24/2015 9:00:33 PM
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