Amaranthus tricolor is not for the timid. Its very bright, perhaps gaudy, colors are sure to catch the eye and enliven any border. Frankly, I love it. Plant several tall ones in a stand at the back of the border and you will have a noteworthy grouping. Put it up against some dark shrubs like smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) and you have a sensational display. The beauty of the plant lies not in its flowers (they are insignificant) but in the brightly colored upper leaves that can range in color from gold to orange, red and purple depending on the cultivar. It’s common name Joseph’s Coat aptly describes the leaves in their resemblance to the coat of many colors worn by the Biblical Joseph. Imported into Europe from the Far East in the 16th century, Joseph’s Coat is a unique, interesting heirloom plant.
Bloom: Insignificant 1” flower spikes are borne in the axils of the leaves in summer
Foliage: Brightly colored upper leaves in shades of gold, orange, red and purple; other leaves green with mixed brown, and gold tones. Leaves are 3-10” long, 2-4” wide.
Size: 1-5’ H x 12-18” W
Light: Full sun; afternoon shade in South tolerated
Soil: Average, evenly moist.
Fertilizer: Over fertilization may cause loss of coloration
Care: Low maintenance
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Seed; terminal cuttings
Tall plants with dark purple foliage like smoke bush; canna, sun coleus
‘Aurora’ (yellow upper leaves)
‘Early Splendor’ (crimson upper leaves)
‘Illumination’ (scarlet upper leaves)
‘Splendens Perfecta’ (multi-colored upper leaves)
Compact varieties available