Celosia, or cockscomb, is a warm weather-blooming annual grown in gardens across the United States. The species, Celosia argentea var. cristata, is divided into several groups based on the shape of the flower. The childsii group has large globe-shaped flowers with overlapping layers and a velvety texture. The cristata group has velvety fan-shaped or crested flowers, the plumosa group has plume-shaped flowers and the spicata group has numerous smaller plume-shaped flowers on multiple branches. The seeds of all groups with many colourful variations are widely found in the nursery trade. The culture is the same for all celosia types.
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Things you need
- Celosia cristata childsii seed
Prepare a place in the garden that receives at least six hours of full sun each day. Celosia cristata childsii plants must have full sun and at least 90 days of temperatures above 23.9 degrees C to bloom productively. They thrive in the hottest part of the summer when other plants have finished blooming. The large heads of the celosia cristata childsii group will not appear until late summer and will be the largest in early fall. The location should be well drained. Celosia even grows well in sandy soil as long as the soil is amended with plenty of compost.
Prepare the planting area by pulverising the soil to a depth of 8 inches with a shovel, hoe or a garden fork. Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the planting area and work it into the top 6 inches of soil.
Plant celosia cristata childsii seed after all danger of frost has passed for your growing area. The seed will not germinate until the soil reaches the right temperature, which is 15.6 degrees Celsius, so planting a little early will not harm the seed as it remains viable for several weeks. Press the seed into the top of the prepared soil and cover with 1/4-inch of fine soil. Thin the plants to 8 to 12 inches apart.
Water the plants as frequently as necessary to keep the soil evenly moist, but not wet. The leaves of a mature colosia cristata childsii plant have a naturally slightly wilted look, especially during the bloom period, so be careful not to overwater.
Fertilise the celosia cristata childsii with a water-soluble fertiliser three times during the growing season. Over-fertilisation will create lush foliage that is susceptible to insect damage and smaller flower heads.
Tips and warnings
- In areas with a short growing season, start the seeds indoors six weeks before your planting date by planting the seed in regular potting soil in a well-drained container. Place the container in a 70- to 80-degree F, brightly lit location. Keep the soil slightly moist and the light levels high so the plant will not be leggy or stressed when planted in the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Celosia is not frost tolerant and will die when exposed to freezing temperatures, so plan your planting date carefully.
- For the largest and most impressive blooms, do not prune the celosia cristata childsii.
- For cut flower arrangements, cut the flower head when the first black seeds begin to appear along the stem at the bottom of the flower head.
- Avoid nursery-grown celosia plants that are already blooming because celosia cristata childsii only blooms once. The most impressive plants are grown from seed.
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