Amaranth is a popular plant in many gardens for its beauty and usefulness. These tall plants are considered to be a useful food crop in many parts of the world for their nutritional benefit. Whether your intention is to grow amaranth for food or for its looks, can you grow it successfully in a container?
Amaranth can be grown successfully in containers. The container must be at least 6-12 inches deep (15-30cm) for root space and at least 5 inches in diameter for a single plant. Up to 3 plants can be grown in a 30-inch or 76cm diameter container. Some amaranth species can reach 8 feet tall.
Many gardens where amaranth has become established can quickly become overrun by this plant if the growing conditions are suitable. Growing amaranth in a container is a good way to control its spread but still enjoy the benefits of cultivating this plant, but you have to do it right for the amaranth to flourish!
Does Amaranth Make A Good Container Plant?
Many gardeners and crop farmers view amaranth or Amaranthus plants as a weed they would rather dispose of rather than encourage growing on their land.
This is mostly due to their fast, prolific growth and huge seed quantity production, making them a problem plant in many locations.
Every continent has endemic species of amaranth, but the translocation of certain subspecies has made them problematic in certain areas. However, if planted in a container, you can control the spread of amaranth in your garden or grow it as a balcony or patio plant in a container.
Amaranth does well in containers if an appropriately sized container is used and the soil and growing needs of the plant are met.
What Containers Are Best For Growing Amaranth?
Amaranth is not that fussy about the type of container you grow it in as long as it meets certain basic criteria.
You can use clay or plastic pots or even long containers to plant a row of amaranth to get a better display and improved pollination of the flowers.
Amaranth relies on the wind for pollination, so you need to plant more than a single plant if you want to gain a good seed harvest from the amaranth.
The main criteria for the container used to grow amaranth are drainage holes at the bottom that promote sufficient drainage and a pot of the right size for the plant.
How Much Space Does Amaranth Need In A Container?
Amaranth plants vary in height depending on the subspecies. The larger amaranth species can reach heights of between 3 feet and 8 feet or 1 meter to 2.5 meters tall. These large plants need a good root system to support their size and space to grow to their natural height.
The root system of amaranth is quite deep to provide the support necessary for the height. Consequently, a container with a depth of at least between 6-inches and 12-inches or 15cm to 30cm is required to provide enough space for the roots.
Rather err on the side deeper side and use a pot that is too deep rather than one that is too shallow. If the container is too shallow, the amaranth plant will fall over once it reaches its full height and starts to produce heavy flowers.
To give the amaranth some lateral root space, the diameter of the growing container should be at least 5 inches or 12 cm for a single plant.
If you plant more than one amaranth plant in the container, you need to space the plants 10 to 12 inches or about 30cm apart to allow room for the large leaves to develop. Using this minimum distance, you could plant up to 3 amaranth plants in a 30-inch or 76cm diameter container.
The Best Growing Medium For Growing Amaranth In Containers
Amaranth can grow well in relatively poor soil, so a good premium potting soil would be sufficient for the plants to thrive in a container.
The soil must be well-drained to prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged and the inevitable root rot killing the amaranth plant.
Do not feed the amaranth too often, as too much feeding will promote tall leafy growth and limit the flower and seed development of the plant. A single helping of good organic compost as mulch in the container is sufficient to sustain the amaranth for an entire growing season.
Best location to Grow Amaranth in Containers
Amaranth grows well in most climates and, depending on the subspecies, can be an annual or short-lived perennial plant.
They do not handle extreme cold very well, and frost in the winter season will kill the plant, requiring new plants to be grown for the next growing season. Bringing the containers indoors in cold winters can help to extend their growing season a little longer.
Amaranth prefers full sun and enjoys receiving at least 6 hours of direct sunshine daily. They can survive in dappled sunlight if they receive some morning or afternoon direct sunshine for a few hours. Consequently, a sunny spot is ideal for locating your container for growing amaranth.
How To Grow Amaranth In Containers
Amaranth can be sown directly from seed into the growing container, or you can start the seeds in a seed tray and transplant the seedlings to the container once they are big enough. The outside temperature must average higher than 55°F or 12.7°C before the seeds germinate.
To plant amaranth seeds directly in the container, sow a pinch of the tiny seeds in each location in the container where you want the seeds to grow. Lightly cover the seeds with a sprinkling of potting soil and water the seeds in well.
Take care not to use a stream of strong water to water the seeds, as you could wash the tiny seeds out of the soil.
The seeds will take about 7 to 14 days to germinate after planting. When the amaranth seedlings are about a week old, thin them out by removing the smaller plants, leaving the stronger seedlings to grow.
The best time to plant amaranth seeds is in early spring once there is no chance of frost injuring the delicate seedlings.
Ensure the soil in the container is always moist but never wet, and your amaranth will reward you with large leaves and abundant flowers and seeds.
Can You Companion Plant With Amaranth?
Amaranth makes for a good companion plant for many other vegetables. If you have a large container that you are using for your amaranth, you can plant many different vegetables at the base of these large plants.
Some plants that grow well with amaranth include the following.
Beans and peas make a particularly good companion plant for amaranth, and the sturdy amaranth plant offers a good natural trellis for these climbing vegetables. Amaranth is also a good trellis for vine tomatoes.
Amaranth is grown for its beauty as an ornamental plant, but the leaves are edible as a leafy green in salads or sauteed as a spinach substitute, and the seeds can be used as an alternative for grains.
Amaranth grows relatively easily in containers as long as the container is the right size and you have the space for the tall plants!