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Amaranthus tricolor Joseph's Coat Amaranth, Fountain Plant1

Edward F. Gilman, Teresa Howe 2


This rapidly-growing annual is noted for its brilliantly colored foliage, variegated in shades of red, green, or yellow (Figure 1). Joseph's coat will reach 1 to 4 feet in height. The beautiful leaves are 3 to 6 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. Joseph's coat is ideal for edgings, borders, or mass plantings, where its vivid coloration will attract attention. It is one of the only annuals striking enough to be planted as a specimen.

Figure 1. Joseph's coat amaranth.
Figure 1.  Joseph's coat amaranth.

General Information

Scientific name: Amaranthus tricolor
Pronunciation: am-uh-RANTH-us TRY-kull-lur
Common name(s): Joseph's coat amaranth, fountain plant, love-lies-bleeding
Family: Amaranthaceae
Plant type: annual
USDA hardiness zones: all zones (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 7: Jun
Planting month for zone 8: May
Planting month for zone 9: Apr
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: Dec; Jan; Feb
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; specimen; border; accent
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 1 to 4 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: not applicable
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: yellow; purple or red; variegated
Fall color: not applicable
Fall characteristic: not applicable


Flower color: red
Flower characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy


Fruit shape: no fruit
Fruit length: no fruit
Fruit cover: no fruit
Fruit color: not applicable
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: reddish
Current year stem/twig thickness: very thick


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerance: unknown
Plant spacing: 12 to 18 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: not applicable
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Plants should be placed in full sun for best leaf color, but can tolerate partial shade in the hottest locations. Any well drained soil is fine and plants are quite drought-tolerant. Joseph's coat will perform best where they do not receive too much fertilizer since the leaves will lose their vibrant coloring when grown in very rich soils. Plants usually need staking to hold them upright.

Cultivars include 'Early Splendor,' 'Flaming Fountain,' 'Molten Fire,' 'Perfecta,' 'Splendens,' and 'Tricolor' which have various brilliant shades of yellow to red foliage. 'Green Thumb' and 'Pigmy Touch' are more compact and may not need staking.

A related plant called A. hybridus is considered useful for reducing tissue swelling and have a cleansing effect. It has also been used for diarrhea, ulcers and hemmorraging.

Propagation is by seed which germinates readily.

Pests and Diseases

None of major concern.


1. This document is FPS038, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Teresa Howe, coordinator - Research Programs/Services, Gulf Coast REC, Bradenton, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS038

Date: 5/4/2015

      Organism ID


      • Gail Hansen de Chapman