It takes 40 to 50 days for Amaranthus caudatus to go from sprout to seed, so if you live in short-season zones, you might want to give your plants a jump on the season by starting them indoors. Be sure to keep your seed pots or trays in a sunny window or under lights, as they need sunlight to germinate.
Since members of the amaranth genus readily self-seed, you won't have much trouble getting them underway. They germinate when the soil is consistently at daytime temperatures of 70°F, and most successful gardeners tend to hold off until two weeks after the first frost before seeding or transplanting outdoors.
When to Plant Indoors: 6 to 8 weeks prior to your last spring frost.
Seed Depth: Surface sow. Don't cover the seeds, but gently press them into or scatter them over the soil.
Seed Spacing: Plant or thin 18" apart.
Days to Germination: 7 to 10 days at 70°F.
When growing love lies bleeding from seed, plant the seeds in fine, damp, weed-free topsoil. Water with your spray head's mist setting or a hand or spray bottle to prevent the seeds from drilling below the surface.
HARVESTING LOVE LIES BLEEDING
Once your plants have experienced their first hard frost, cut off the stalks and hang them upside-down to finish drying. For just a few stalks, tie them to a dowel across a large, clean bucket (making sure there's good air circulation). Once they're dry, beat them against the inside of the bucket, or roll the stalks between your hands to remove the seeds.
If you went overboard and have a good crop of plants, you might want to line a large cardboard box with a tarp or garbage bag to catch and contain the seeds.
You'll have bits of dried stems and foliage in the mix; try gently shaking the seeds in a casserole dish or tray while blowing them with a hair dryer on a low setting. Too high and you'll have a mess on your hands. Store the seeds the same as you would with grains.
By the way, fresh love lies bleeding sprays make a good cut flower for up to five days after cutting.
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