Amaranthus hypochondriacus | ‘Green Thumb’ Grain Amaranth
Amaranthus hypochondriacus, known as Mexican Grain Amaranth, Prince-of-Wales Feather, Feather Amaranth, and Princes Feather, was once almost as widely dispersed throughout the Americas as corn. The name comes from the Greek amarantos- the “one that does not wither”, or the never-fading flower, and comes in many different forms.
‘Green Thumb’ Amaranth has an upright growth habit with bronze-green foliage and unusual lime-green flower spikes that appear in summer. It’s closely related to several common weeds, which hints to the easy cultivation of this warm-weather annual. Drought tolerant and thrives in heat. Requires full sun and does best in well-draining soil. Doesn’t like to be over-watered. Doesn’t require any fertilization and too much nitrogen can cause the plant to produce more leaves than flowers. Makes a great bedding plant and is suitable for growing in borders or containers. Excellent cut flower in both fresh and dried arrangements. Easy to grow from seed indoors, and can self-seed prolifically outdoor. Plants seem to grow larger when direct-seeded in the spring garden.
Many parts of the plant are edible, including the leaves, young shoots, and of course the seeds, which are gluten-free and have more protein, vitamins and minerals than most other grains. Amaranth also has twice the calcium of milk, the leaves are high in vitamin A content and have a protein content greater than 27% which. Fresh leaves also contain higher quantities of both calcium and phosphorus than cabbage does, and compared to spinach Amaranthus species have greater protein, calcium, phosphorus, and iron levels! The young leaves can be prepared like spinach. When the seed heads mature you may explore the possibility of milling this ancient grain. Or may decide to share the bounty with your backyard birds or to your domestic poultry.
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 2-3 ft
Mature width: 2 ft
Hardiness zones: 9-11. Annual in all others.