The attractive Celosia plant from the Amaranth family goes by the common names of woolflowers, cockscomb flower and “Flamingo Feather.”
The unusual looking annual flowers can bloom for up to ten weeks, with Celosia flower heads of red, purple, gold, pink or sometimes bi-colored flower colors.
The name ‘Celosia’, actually means ‘burning’ in Greek, and when blooming in large numbers the plumosa type blooms together, resemble 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 Celosia such a unique flower? The makeup of each blossom consists of numerous tiny flowers.
Each of these flowers will produce small seeds, and sow seed 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.
Caring for The Celosia Plant
Considered easy to grow, Celosias 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 per day).
Plants grow as perennials in 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, they love organic amendments that improve drainage, as celosia does not like wet conditions.
A rich soil will support fast growth. Before planting add in plenty of manure, organic matter or compost.
They bloom until frost, when they can be cut and dried. Strip stems of all leaves and hang head downward in a warm, dark place. This takes about two weeks. Flower heads should not be allowed to touch.
Grow Celosia Flowers From Seeds
To encourage the plants to propagate, collect the seeds and start them indoors. 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, and nighttime temperatures between 65° to 70° degrees. Via gardeningchannel.com
When they’re about ready to transplant, plant seedlings around eight 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 the first five weeks. Plants need 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. Seed will not sprout until the soil is warm. When the plants are six inches high, transplant so that they will stand 8-10″ inches apart.
Garden Pests On The Celosia Flower
The usual pest suspects of small red spider mites, aphids (plant lice), and other pests attack Celosia plants.
The plants will drop their seeds and the pests can quickly take over containers.
To get rid of or kill aphids apply:
Few diseases bother Celosia. Good cultural practices will help avoid the two primary ones: the disease of powdery mildew and fungal leaf spot.
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-inch-long plumes in red, rose, yellow
What To Look For When Buying Cockscomb Plants
- Celosia don’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 drought and heat tolerant.
- Plant them outside in the home garden when summer weather arrives.
- When transplanting handle plants gently as celosia roots damage easily
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 species, Celosia argentea (aka Celosia cristata) and Celosia spicata.. [source]