A new series of the Rio Grande globe amaranth — the Qis Gomphrena — is tough-as-nails, beautiful and attracts butterflies and pollinators.
You would think that a common name like Rio Grande globe amaranth and even flashy named varieties like Strawberry Fields would make it a staple at the garden center but this simply hasn’t been the case. The Qis series will be different in that greenhouse producers will find it easy to grow, so that will give gardeners everywhere a chance to try it in the landscape.
This species known botanically as Gomphrena haageana has great bones as it is native to Texas and New Mexico. The Qis series will come in the traditional red, carmine, orange, purple and a mix with more colors surely on the way.
The plants can reach around 24 to 36 inches in height with a 12- to 15-inch spread and is a prolific bloomer.
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When you find yours, select a site in full sun with fertile, well-drained soil. I have seen many fine gomphrenas in part sun, but blooms are more prolific in full sun. Those blooms will also bring in butterflies.
When working soil, incorporate 2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. I like to use a 12-6-6 ratio when I can easily find it, but a balanced one that contains a slow-release form of nitrogen will do just fine. Work in the fertilizer and 3 to 4 inches of organic matter, tilling 6 to 8 inches deep.
The effort put into loosening the soil with organic matter will pay off when frequent rains make good drainage mandatory. Once the drier season arrives, established plants will become drought-tolerant.
The seed companies are recommending a 5- to-6 inch spacing. Just be sure to plant them at the same depth they are growing in the container. Add a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and retard weed growth.
Remove old flowers to keep the plant tidy and to keep those little, round flowers coming, too. Feed plants about every six weeks with the same fertilizer used in bed preparation. In addition to being good in vases, they are superior dried flowers, and many gardeners use the little ball-shaped flowers around the home in potpourri dishes.