Let it Grow: Chicken gizzards making a comeback

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Chicken gizzards are among the old fashioned plants that are making a comeback in our gardens.

The genus Iresine offers us a bunch of colorful choices for foliage plants to augment those old flowerbeds and give us something to brag about to our neighbors who have planted the same flowers year after year.

Chicken gizzards come in a lot of different colors and heights.My favorites are the red chicken gizzard and the tri-color ones. They&8217;ll grow to about six to twelve inches tall and get just as bushy.

The red chicken gizzards, sometimes called beefsteak plants, are deep red with lighter red veins. It kind of looks like a piece of Angus beef when you look at it closely.

The tri-color variety has a lighter appearance. The leaves are veined with green to red on a chartreuse background with some red to orange tinges on the edges.

These plants will tolerate full sun to partial shade and are sure to brighten up your garden.

Other plants of the Iresine genus include: Gomphrena, Joseph&8217;s coat and celosia and are a part of the Amaranthaceae family.

Gomphrena is sometimes called globe amaranth and is another good choice. It is a tropical plant that, like its relatives mentioned above, is grown as an annual here in our region.

The globe amaranth has one to two inch clusters of flowers that rise above the foliage.

These blooms make good dried flowers, but if left to the frosts of autumn and winter, they will usually self seed in the spring.

However, if we have long periods of warm days followed by freezing temperatures, the seedlings could germinate and then die. Therefore, I trim off my blooms after the frost hits them and dry them for next season.

Look for these and other old fashioned plants at your local garden center or Co-op