Growing and Saving the Seeds of Cockscomb & Celosia
Latin name Celosia cristata is an annual member of the amaranth family. Plants are heat and drought tolerant and considered quite easy to grow, able to tolerate a wide range of soil types. The bright, flaming blooms are prized as a cut flower as well as landscape plant.
The exact range of the original wild celosia family is unknown, but it is believed to be in Africa. This flower has been noted for medicinal use in Chinese medicine and the flowers were beloved in Victorian England as a cut flower. Thomas Jefferson grew them in his flower beds.
- Edible flower
- Beds, borders, containers, cottage garden
- Seeds germinate in 14-21 days.
- Surface sow seeds and cover with a layer of soil, making sure that seeds are well covered, as light inhibits germination.
- Direct sow in place after last frost or start indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost.
- Ideal germination temperature is 65-70 F.
- Celosia can handle a wide range of soil and they appreciate full sun.
- Space 9-12 inches apart. Plants range in height from dwarf to 3.5 feet tall depending on variety.
- While the plants are considered drought-tolerant, keep them well-watered during germination and establishment as water stress can cause premature blooming.
- Cut flower growers should pinch the main growing stem when plants reach 12 inches tall to encourage multiple branching versus single chunky stems.
- Typically pest-free, though aphids may be a problem but can be treated with organic insecticidal soap.
- This warm weather-loving plant may suffer from botrytis and rot if consistently exposed to temperatures cooler than 60 F and high humidity. Space plants farther apart to promote better air circulation and do not plant too early when the weather is still cold.
- Flowers are mostly self-pollinating, but insects can cross-pollinate different varieties. In order to prevent errant insect pollination, separate different varieties by 1/4 mile.
- Save seeds when flower heads have turned brown; just place heads in a paper bag and shake seeds free.
- Keep seeds in a cool, dry dark place.
- Seeds remain viable for 3-5 years when stored properly.