Gomphrena is a Central American genus of flowering plants. These plants are annuals, growing for a single year before reseeding and dying off. They are popular in gardens around the world and seedlings are usually readily available at nurseries, as are seeds. If a nursery does not carry Gomphrena, other gardeners may have seeds available for sale or trade, or seeds can be ordered through online catalogs.
These plants are members of the amaranth family and are known as globe amaranths. They have a low-lying growth habit and produce distinctive ball-shaped flowers with a slightly papery texture. The flowers can be magenta, red, cream, or pink, depending on the species and cultivar, and are set off by light green foliage. Some have unusually distinctive color patterns, like the strawberry globe amaranth.
Gomphrena species can be grown in well-drained soil of average quality. Soil consistency is not important, as long as the soil does not hold water, and the plants will grow in full sun to partial shade. These plants are very tolerant of drought conditions and can be an excellent choice for low water gardening in regions where water consumption is a cause for concern. The flowers can be used as cut flowers in arrangements or on their own, and they are known for being long-lasting. They are also highly suitable as dried flowers. Flowers can be left on the plant to dry, or cut and hung to dry.
Some good uses for Gomphrena in the garden include beds, borders, and edges. Because the plants lie low to the ground, they should not be planted in the background or they may be overwhelmed by other plants. Other drought tolerant annuals can pair well with Gomphrena to make a riot of color in the garden or to create a lush, green look. Once the plants start to die back or look scraggly, they can be removed and the soil can be worked to rest or to prepare it for another planting.
These plants are very hardy and are generally not at risk from garden pests. Because they prefer relatively dry conditions, they are also less prone to developing mold and mildew. If plants start to wilt or look diseased, they should be pulled up and safely discarded. The soil where the plants were grown can be allowed to rest for a year to limit the spread of any organisms that might be present, or it can be removed and replaced with soil known to be clean.