Strawberry Fields Gomphrena has masses of gorgeous scarlet ball-shaped blooms

May 19, 2021

John Lennon thought one song was his best work when he wrote and sang with the Beatles. When he was a kid, Lennon played at a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool and the song means never let go of your childlike imagination. And "Strawberry Fields Forever" went on to become a huge hit.

In the garden, you can have strawberries, of course, but also flowers that look like strawberries: hot red balls atop stems from summer into fall. It is the Strawberry Fields Gomphrena with masses of gorgeous scarlet ball-shaped blooms. It is striking when planted in large groups or drifts.

The red pom-pom flowers are perfect for cutting. Its woolly pointed leaves stay dark green all season long. Strawberry Fields Gomphrena is beautiful in the garden and as a cut flower use.

They stand up to drought and keep growing even in hot, humid conditions.

Gomphrena (Gomphrena globosa) is a herbaceous annual that needs little care. Cut off any dead flower heads to encourage more blooms.

The red flowers are rich in nectar and will attract beneficial pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. You can even make a soothing pink herbal tea from the blooms.

Growing to 20 inches tall with a spread of about 12 inches, Strawberry Fields Gomphrena even grows well in containers.

You can start with plants from a nursery or sow seeds directly outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Because gomphrena often have low germination rates plant the seeds thickly and later thin out extra plants.

For a mass effect, plant them about 10 inches apart. Because they have leaves all the way to the ground, you won't need any filler plants in front of them.

Choose a spot in the garden that gets full sunlight. Even though they can tolerate some shade, not enough sunlight produces fewer flowers and the plants will get thin and lanky as they stretch toward the sun. They grow well in just average to moist soils. Just never let the plants completely dry out.

Gomphrena are not fussy about soil type or pH. They are very tolerant of urban pollution and thrive in inner city environments.

Strawberry Fields Gomphrena mixes well in pots surrounded by smaller plants. All potted plants will need more frequent watering than if they are grown in the garden.

Also called Globe Amaranth, gomphrena flowers last a long time in the vase. They may even grow roots while in the vase. They are also valuable dry flowers which keep their color for years.

To produce a bushier plant, pinch the plants back by half when they are a few inches tall. This will delay flowering by a few weeks, but you will have more flowers throughout a longer season.

Because they are drought tolerant, you only need to water them when there hasn't been rain for a week or more.

To keep diseases away leave enough space between plants so air circulates freely.

Mix in other sun loving flowers such as zinnias, dahlias, marigolds and salvia.

Plant Strawberry Fields Forever gomphrena and you will have endless blooms to cheer up the garden or the vase while listening to The Beatles. Perfect if perhaps you wait for the bus with your friends Paul and George at a roundabout named Penny Lane.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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