Celosia Plant Care: How To Grow Cockscomb Flower

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The attractive Celosia plant from the Amaranth family and Celosia genus goes by the common names of woolflowers, cockscomb flowers, and “Flamingo Feather.”

This plant is native to Central and South America, India, Asia, and Nepal throughout Africa. 

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The unusual-looking annual flowers can bloom for up to ten weeks, with Celosia flower heads of inflorescences of red, purple, orange, gold, pink, or sometimes bi-colored flower colors.

The name ‘Celosia’ is derived from the Greek word kelos, which actually means ‘burning’, referencing its flame-like inflorescence.

When blooming in large numbers, the Celosia argentea plumosa type blooms together, resembling an ornamental grass of fire.

With a number of different Celosia plant types and cultivars, not all look the way you would expect. Different sizes (from 6″ inches to 2′ feet in size), along with a variety of vibrant colors and shapes. One form with velvety ruffled looks like a brain.

What makes Celosias such a unique flower? The makeup of each blossom consists of numerous tiny flowers.

Each of these flowers will produce small seeds and sow seeds continually sprouting in the containers, with no need for you to do anything.

You can, however, pick the flowers, dry them and bring them indoors if you wish. 

Celosia Plant Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Celosia argentea
  • Common Name(s): Cockscomb, Woolflower, Brain Celosia
  • Synonyms: Celosia cristata, Celosia plumosa
  • Family & Origin: Amaranthaceae family, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, India, Nepal, Central and South America
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-11
  • Size: Grows up to 6′ inches to’ 3 feet tall
  • Flowering: Summer to fall
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Humidity: Moderate
  • Temperature: Warm temperatures between 65-85°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Regular watering, but avoid overwatering
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Aphids, spider mites, and fungal diseases
  • Propagation: Seeds or stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Ornamental plant for gardens, containers, and cut flowers. Can also be used for medicinal purposes.

They make beautiful additions to dried floral arrangements and wreaths. Celosia plants also provide a burst of color in container gardens or patios.

Celosia Care

Considered easy to grow, cocks comb flowers will propagate themselves if left unattended, and they grow quite well with minimal attention. 

For best results, plant Celosia in full sun or partial shade (8 hours of direct sunlight per day is best).

Is Celosia Annual or Perennial?

Plants grow as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11 and as full sun annuals in the USDA Zones. Celosia does not tolerate the cold well at all.

To enjoy the bright color of Celosia flowers, they need moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate dry soils.

They love organic soil amendments that improve drainage, as celosia does not like wet conditions.

A rich soil will support fast growth. Before planting, add plenty of manure, organic matter, or compost.

To grow well and thrive, fertilize once a month using a nutrient-rich compost or a liquid nitrogen fertilizer.

They bloom until frost when they can be cut and dried. Strip stems of all leaves and hangs head downward in a warm, dark place. This takes about two weeks. Flowerheads should not be allowed to touch.

Grow Celosia Flowers From Seeds

Encourage the rooster’s comb to flower. To propagate, collect the seeds and start them indoors. After germination, transplant small plants outside when the frost danger is past.

The Gardening Channel shares this info on starting Celosia from seed.

Spread the seeds in a tray filled with high-quality potting mix. Cover the seeds with ¼ inch potting soil. Celosia doesn’t need light to germinate and can actually be hindered by it. Mist the soil with water and cover the tray with plastic wrap. Mist the soil every day as needed to keep it moist. Celosia seeds will not germinate if they dry out, so this point is important. Store the seeds in a location with daytime temperatures between 80° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures between 65° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit.  Via gardeningchannel.com

When they’re about ready to transplant, plant seedlings around 8″ inches apart. Wait until the weather is nice and warm. If you plant too early and they get frosted, they probably won’t thrive.

Seeds planted in June will flower in August. They grow slowly in the first five weeks. Celosia needs moisture at all times. 

One severe drying out will kill many of the small roots. Weeds also are detrimental because of the root system.

When planting in rows, scatter the seed thinly. Press down firmly with a board, but do not otherwise cover them. 

The seed will not sprout until the soil is warm. When the plants are six inches high, transplant them so that they will stand 8″ to 10″ inches apart.

In addition, this plant will reseed itself and return next year when grown as an annual.

Garden Pests On The Celosia Flower

The usual pest suspects of small red spider mites, aphids (plant lice), and other pests attack Celosia flowers.

Celosia will drop their seeds, and the pests can quickly take over containers.

To get rid of or kill aphids, apply the following:

Few fungal diseases bother Celosia. Good cultural practices will help avoid the two primary ones: the disease of powdery mildew and the fungal disease of leaf spots.

Use drip or soaker hoses for irrigation, as watering overhead encourages the spread of disease. In severe cases, remove and throw away diseased plants.

You’ll find several varieties of Celosia plants on the market.

  • The ‘Sparkler’ series for dried and cut flowers.
  • Tall growing (3′-4′ feet) ‘Chief’ series
  • ‘Jewel Box,’ a dwarf variety, is good for use in garden design where it reaches only 6″ to 8″ inches tall.
  • Fresh Look Red – a popular award-winner, grows 18″ inches tall with plumes of rosy-red flowers.
  • Bombay & Century Mix – 12″ inches long plumes in red, rose, and yellow

What To Look For When Buying Cockscomb Plants

  • Celosia doesn’t tolerate frost. Look for plants at garden centers in late spring.
  • Check the roots and avoid plants with crowded or tangled roots
  • Look for compact plants – Many new types of Celosia varieties are heat and drought-tolerant.
  • Plant them outside in the home garden when summer weather arrives.
  • When transplanting, handle plants gently, as celosia roots easily damage

Some believe they hold medicinal value, and others claim they are edible. Make your own assumptions and do your research.

As with any plant, it may take some time to figure out the best way to grow and soil for your location.

If you find your Celosia plants don’t thrive, check the quality of your soil, and make sure the weather is warm. 

Those two things are the most common problems with these plants and the two things that are probably easiest to fix.

You’ll find about 60 annual or perennial Celosia species. The three common celosia forms with – feathery plumes, crests, or flower spikes belong to two different varieties of celosia – Celosia argentea (aka Celosia cristata varieties) and Celosia spicata. [source]

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