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Globe amaranth is a group of annual plants belonging to the Amaranthaceae family. While native to South America, they are among the most common garden plants and are grown virtually everywhere. They are an everlasting, meaning their dried flowers will last indefinitely. They keep their shape and bright color for years, so they are frequently included in dried flower arrangements, including wreaths, sprays and bouquets. Gomphrena globosa is the variety of globe amaranth most commonly grown for this purpose.
These are among the easiest garden plants to grow, requiring very little care. They love hot weather and will produce flowers continuously throughout summer and into fall, if the weather stays warm. The gumdrop-shaped flowers bloom in shades of pink, purple, white and scarlet, depending on the variety. They are known as cut-and-come-again plants, because cutting these flowers encourages the plants to keep producing more.
All species of globe amaranth are bushy and fairly low-growing, usually to no more than 2 feet (61 m) tall, with hairy leaves up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. While they are tolerant of drought and very hot weather, they will not withstand the slightest hint of cold. Once the air begins to cool in fall, these plants will quickly shrivel and collapse to the ground. Though they prefer fertile, well-dug soil, they will grow nearly anywhere if provided with plenty of bright sunlight.
All types of globe amaranth do very well as container plants and look particularly nice when combined with flowers with grayish foliage, such as artemisia or lavender. When planted in the garden, they mix well with heuchera, edelweiss and perennial sage. Hummingbirds and bees are attracted to the vivid flowers, as are many types of butterflies.
Unlike many other types of flowers that are used for drying, globe amaranth flowers need no special care. They will dry right on the plant and can simply be picked off when they feel dry and paper-like. No other treatment is necessary, and they can be used in dried flower arrangements immediately. The flowers also can be picked while they are still fresh and hung upside down in bunches in a cool, dry place until they have completely dried.
These highly ornamental plants are easily grown from seed and should be started several weeks before they are to be planted outdoors. The seeds will germinate more quickly if they are soaked in water overnight before they are planted. Globe amaranth plants can usually be found at larger garden centers in spring for those who do not wish to start their own from seed. They should not be planted in the ground until the soil has thoroughly warmed.