Facts about the Cockscomb Flower
While many gardeners rely on their old standbys, the perennial plants, to bring beauty to their gardens year after year, there is no doubt that annuals such as the cockscomb flower add seasonal color and interest to gardens as well. While their beauty fades away at the end of the autumn season, their contribution to the landscape will be one that will encourage repetition in future years.
What is cockscomb?
This flower is a member of the amaranth family, which is thought to have originated in Africa and India. It is also known as celosia, which derives from a Greek term for “burned” that could refer to the amazingly brilliance of color that some of the species exhibits. An annual plant, the cycle of celosia extends from early spring to late fall; they can also be encouraged to grow in containers indoors to extend their life.
Different varieties of celosia have diverse growth characteristics. Some varieties grow only to 6 to 8 inches, while certain types tower over other annuals at approximately 4 feet in height. They all carry extremely unique and lovely blooms, however. The more commonly known name of celosia is cockscomb; a name that leans upon the similarity of the flower to the combs of roosters, but is also likened by many to the appearance of brains as well. The flower heads of some of the species are large and flat; such as found on a rooster; others such as the feather cockscomb erupt like the plumes of ostriches. One variety, nicknamed the wool flower, gets its moniker from the look of a tangled mass of wool yarn. Colors of any variety of the cockscomb flower are vibrant; ranging from bright yellow to deep crimson to brilliant pink.
These annuals are easily grown in any climate. The seeds can be started indoors in early spring, or sown directly into the ground when all danger of frost has passed. As most annuals, a good rich soil mixture is beneficial for the young plants, with regular fertilizing through the growing season. Celosia generally does best in hot, dry conditions; however, occasional watering keeps the plant from wilting. An important note: when watering celosia, concentrate on the roots and avoid wetting the leaves and flowers. Fungal diseases are common with moisture and celosia. Blooming often begins early and will continue throughout the summer months. When the stalks die away in the late fall, pull the plants out by the roots and simply discard or place in a compost pile.
For indoor pleasure, try displaying the cockscomb flower in a vase. The long stalks of the celosia provide a dazzling display of the colorful blooms, and will last in the vase for up to two weeks. Blooms are also excellent candidates for drying, extending the life of the unique blossoms indefinitely. No scent is attributed to the cockscomb blossom itself, but the fragrance will scarcely be missed with the visual appeal of these flowers.
Though celosia is an eye catching plant all on its own, when planted en masse the effect is even more profound. Combining varieties that display different hues and styles offers a spectacular array of texture, heights and brilliance of color that can bring a rainbow effect to your landscape.
Perennial plants are the basis of many gardens and landscapes; dependable standby plants that emerge year after year with lush foliage and brief flowering stage. It is the addition of annual plants that provide the splashes of color throughout the summer season to brighten the borders and gardens, and the cockscomb flower is one of the popular choices that will deliver long lasting blooms and color.