Cockscombs are custom-made for places with hot, sunny summers. This varied group of easy-to-grow annuals enriches the garden with vibrant colours and unusual flower forms. Here is important information you should know about this beautiful flower.
Types of cockscomb in the landscape
There are 3 types of cockscomb (also called celosias):
- The most versatile types, called plume celosias, develop upright, fluffy flower spikes shaped like candle flames in yellow, red, pink, apricot and orange.
- Cockscomb celosias have the same colour range and broad, pointed leaves of the plume types, but the flowers resemble a rooster’s comb.
- A taller, airier type, called wheat celosias, produces soft-pink spikes that blend beautifully in the garden and make excellent cut flowers.
Where to plant cockscomb
Each type brings a different aspect to a garden so use each type to best use when designing your flower bed with these pointers:
- Plume celosias bring an unusual colour and texture to the garden.
- Yellow plumes in particular are fun to intersperse among flowers of various species.
- Cockscomb celosias always attract attention, so grow them where their curious flowers are easily admired.
- Mass wheat celosias near the rear of sunny borders where they can work as a backdrop for other summer flowers.
Best tips for growing cockscomb
Cockscombs are widely available as spring bedding plants or you can sow seeds.
- Start seeds indoors eight weeks before your last frost.
- Sprinkle them over a moist, seed-starting medium and barely cover the seeds.
- Keep the soil moist and at room temperature until the seedlings have several sets of mature leaves.
- Transplant or sow seeds directly in the garden about two weeks after the last frost. Cockscombs germinate best in temperatures above 18° (65°F).
- Transplant or thin seedlings to 30 centimetres (12 inches) apart.
- The stems of young seedlings are often the same colour as the flowers they will produce, which is an advantage when deciding where to place them in the garden.
- Give young plants enough water to keep the soil consistently moist. Celosias wilt if the soil becomes too dry, but water will quickly revive them.
- Fertilize plants once with a balanced, granular, controlled-release fertilizer or fertilize monthly with a water-soluble plant food.
- Remove fading flowers to promote the development of fresh blossoms.
- Rinse off red spider mites that feed on leaf undersides, giving them a webbed, pale, stippled appearance. Use forceful, daily sprays of water from a hose or apply insecticidal soap.
Choosing your cockscombs
There are different styles and types, here’s some popular ones that you may want to grow:
- The Castle series is invaluable for its lush, feathery, 38-centimetre-tall (15-inch-tall) flower spikes.
- The spikes of the Century series are taller, to 50 centimetres (20 inches), and are favourites of gardeners who gather and dry the plumes for winter flower arrangements.
- Prestige scarlet is popular for its strong, rich red colour tinting its leavs. It contrasts beautifully with any yellow, white or blue bedfellows.
- Wheat celosias, such as ‘Pink Candle’ and ‘Purple Flamingo’, grow one to 1.2 metres (three to four feet) tall and have narrow leaves and smaller, more lightweight flower spikes. Naturally upright wheat cockscombs never need staking and can tolerate drier soil conditions than the other types.
Cockscomb celosias are a favourite for gardeners for their rich colours and durability. Take a look at the different varieties when you want to add some different texture and colour to your flower bed.