20
August
2013

Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’

Gomphrena00This variety has been on our “want to grow” list for several years, so we planted some as a trial crop. You may know it as Globe Amaranth, but ‘Fireworks’ looks different. Rather than the typical short plant with little gumdrop flowers on the ends of the stems, its blooms are larger, more open and tipped with yellow, hence the name: ‘Fireworks’. Stems are tall, stiff and abundant while flowers keep their color after cutting and drying, making it perfect for the cutting or craft garden.

Ample blooms resemble magenta clover blossoms, and a mature plant will send up lots of stems. The plant blooms well into the fall, keeping pace with other autumn standards like ornamental cabbages.

‘Fireworks’ grows more densely in the ground than it does in containers. Growing loose and wild in a pot, it doesn’t look particularly impressive. Once in the ground, plants bush up and become more substantial. Flower stalks grow up, rather than up and all around, so the color display sits above the plant about knee-high.

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Because of its habit this is not a single specimen variety, like a rose or peony; plants work best when grouped together in a stand. Even better, they mix well with other autumn selections such as perovskia, rudbeckia, repeats, lamb’s ear, anise hyssop, salvia or other meadow-like or prairie-style plantings.

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Free spirited? Go ga-ga with crazy zinnia, gaillardia and Gomphrena. Maybe you favor a more open, split rail or picket fence garden—‘Fireworks’ will fit right in with those styles, too.

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As a summer planting, this variety will probably reach four feet; as an autumn one, expect something in the three-foot range—up over your knees.

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Landscapers—you can pretty much leave this to the local rains once you give it a good soaking at the initial planting. It’s drought-tolerant in the summer heat, and an eco-friendly choice for hard luck areas like parking lots or along driveways.

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