The Gomphrena genus is made up of over 100 different species in the amaranth family, and you may know the plants within this family as globe amaranths.
Gomphrena At A Glance
Plants within the genus hail from warm, tropical, and subtropical parts of the world, and there’s a type for every garden, as the genus consists of annuals and perennials in many different colors.
While you may know them primarily as ornamental plants, some have other uses including medical applications.
Globe amaranths are perfect for xeriscaping, or for those who are climate conscious and don’t want to use a lot of water in their gardens, as they are resistant to drought.
You can grow them in mixed borders, beds, or containers, and they also work well as part of cutting gardens, adding a wealth of color and form to any cut flower arrangement or vase.
Gomphrena Name Origin
The genus name is Latin in origin, derived from the name gromphaena, which was a term used for the tricolor amaranthus.
Gomphrena Flower Symbolism
As gomphrena flowers are classed as everlasting, meaning that they keep their form and color for a very long time when dried, they are symbolic of love which endures time, and immortality itself.
Gomphrena Plant Uses
The globe amaranth, in particular, has a lot of applications both in herbal medicine and in cooking (see also Amaranth Flower Meaning And Symbolism).
It’s often used to treat nasty respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, and coughs.
It also has some applications in helping to alleviate high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and helps to bolster the immune system, while providing plenty of antioxidants and antibacterial properties.
In cooking, the flowers of the globe amaranth are edible, often included in tea. Other parts of the plant, including the young shoots and foliage, the roots, and the seeds, are also safe to eat.
Globe amaranth flowers also have a high level of betacyanins, which means that they are perfect for ingredients in food supplements, in cosmetics, as well as feeding livestock.
They also make a great natural food coloring, as long as the pH stays between 3 and 7, producing a vivid red with shades of violet.
In terms of ornamental value, there are many types of gomphrena to choose from, and it helps that most species flower, introducing lots of pollinators into your garden.
While the flowers look like true flowers, they are actually colorful bracts, concealing the true flowers beneath. These make the perfect contrast to the leaves.
Though the bracts aren’t true flowers, they provide a lot of color into any garden for an extended blooming period, and also make great cut flowers.
Most species are also great at withstanding humidity, drought, and frost, making them a good option for a wide range of climates and garden conditions.
Globe amaranths are often used in leis in Hawaii, thanks to the flowers keeping their color and shape, even as dried flowers.
In Nepal, globe amaranth flowers are used as garlands during Tihar, the last day of a five-day Hindu festival, where sisters place garlands of amaranths around their brothers necks for protection.
Gomphrena Growing Conditions
Gomphrena plants are hardy in USDA zones 2 through to 11, and may bloom from spring well into fall, if the conditions are right.
Some species of Gomphrena will reach up to 3 feet tall, but these are the exception, as most are a lot smaller.
Both annual and perennial species require direct sunlight to produce their gorgeous flowers, and won’t tolerate low light levels.
This is not a lot to ask for, when you consider what you get back with these stunning plants, the long-lived flowers, and the beneficial insects they attract.
What they aren’t picky about is the soil type, as long as you can give them plenty of drainage, they will tolerate dry and sandy soil, or moist compost.
What they can’t stand is boggy soil, which is the same for most plants that are drought tolerant, as this leads to root rot.
They don’t need a huge amount of water, and will largely take care of themselves, provided that you give them enough room to grow and plenty of air circulation around the plant to prevent disease.