Celosia (Cockscomb) is native to Africa, tropical America and India. It is an annual herb and prefer a sunny, humid and hot environment. It is intolerant of frost and like loose, fertile and well-drained soil. Cockscomb is widely cultivated all over the world. Following this article will introduce to you in detail about the planting and care of Celosia (Cockscomb) .
How to Choose and Prepare a Planting Site
Celosia (Cockscomb) plants need between six and eight hours of direct sunshine daily. Plant cockscomb flowers in the sunniest part of your garden. The beautiful flowers will continue to bloom if there is some partial afternoon shade. A lack of sunlight is a common reason why cockscomb flowers wilt and die.
To care for a potted Celosia plant indoors, place the pot on a sunny windowsill. It’s vital to remember that Celosia isn’t a plant that does well in shaded areas with little sunlight. Growing indoors, they still need around eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
How to Grow Celosia (Cockscomb)
Steps for Celosia (Cockscomb) Propagation with Seeds
These plants grow well from seed, germinating easily in the right conditions. The plant blooms approximately three months after germination, so it's a good idea to get a head start on the growing season and sow the seeds indoors around six weeks before the last frost is expected, as this will produce earlier flowers. Use a seed tray and spread the seeds across high-quality potting soil, then cover with an extra quarter-inch of soil.
Celosia requires warm soil to germinate, so use a heating pad or supply bottom heat if possible. Ideal daytime temperatures are in the region of 80 °F, and nighttime temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees lower than this. The soil will need to be kept consistently moist, which is best achieved with a daily water spray. Cover the tray with clear plastic to create a humid environment similar to a greenhouse, removing the plastic once seedlings have developed. Light is not required for germination, and too much light can actually prevent the seedlings from forming, so situate the tray in shaded but not dark position.
Once you have seedlings, thin out the weakest, leaving only the strongest seedlings to repot or plant outside. Seedlings should be transplanted directly to the ground outside once the risk of frost has passed and should be kept at a distance of 8 inches from each other to allow adequate growing space. Celosia has delicate roots that can be inhibited by weed growth. To prevent weed roots from killing off your Celosia seedlings, apply a few inches of organic mulch around the top of the soil when you plant your seedlings to prevent weeds from forming.
Once mature, each Celosia bloom is made up of hundreds of tiny flowers, with each of these flowers producing tiny seeds that will self-seed to ensure plenty of new plants each year. The plant readily self-seeds with no intervention necessary to encourage growth.
How to Care for Celosia (Cockscomb)
Celosia (Cockscomb) is a full sun plant. Position it in a spot where it will receive at least 8 hours of sunlight each day for maximum growth. It can also tolerate partial shade, but a full sun position will yield the best results and produce a greater abundance of flowers.
The best soil type for Celosia (Cockscomb) plants is a rich loamy soil that has plenty of organic matter. You can amend the soil with peat moss, leaf compost, or aged manure. Celosia plants can grow in nutrient-deficient soil. However, the plant produces more colorful plumes if the soil is kept moist with plenty of nutrients. Organic soil amendments are ideal for Celosia because they hold in moisture and facilitate good drainage.
Before planting Celosia plants outdoors, it's best to work in organic matter to the growing site. Work in a 4- to 6-inch (10 – 15 cm) layer of compost up to 1 ft. (30 cm) deep in the flower bed.
A potted Celosia plant needs a porous, fertile potting mix for its flowers to really thrive. Add one part perlite to one part regular houseplant potting soil to grow a cockscomb plant in a pot. Using perlite as an amendment increases drainage without losing too much moisture.
Celosia (Cockscomb) plants need consistently moist soil, but too much water in poorly drained soil can cause root rot. Check the moisture level in the soil, and water only when the soil feels mostly dry in the top 2 inches. Run a soaker hose at the base of each plant until the soil feels very moist in the top few inches. Established cockscomb plants need less regular watering than young plants and can withstand short periods of dryness, but they will look and bloom better if kept moist during the growing season.
Temperature and Humidity
While growing it indoors, get a humidifier for it. You can also keep the pot on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and a bit of water. Also, misting the foliage every morning and grouping it together with other plants will help elevate the humidity levels.
Celosia (Cockscomb) plants are moderate feeders when blooming. Addslow-release fertilizer to the soil when you plant cockscomb plants to eliminate the need for regular fertilizer applications, whether you are planting Celosia in pots or in the garden. Alternatively, you can apply a weak, water-soluble fertilizer solution at each watering. The University of Maryland Extension recommends enriching garden soil with 0.1 pounds of nitrogen per 100 square-feet of space, which can be accomplished with 1.7 pounds of cottonseed meal or 1 pound of 10-6-4 fertilizer. Translated to the average plant, just provide a small handful.
Pinching out Celosia (Cockscomb)stems helps to encourage a bushier plant. It also encourages new flower plumes to emerge.
Cockscomb is a prolific self seeder. If spent flowers are allowed to remain on the plant and go to seed, it will likely return the following year. Deadheading spent blooms prevents this spread. Deadheading also helps to keep plants healthy.
Cut away dead or damaged leaves and limbs when the plant is at least 8 inches tall.
Pests and Diseases
Celosia (Cockscomb) are generally hardy but are susceptible to fungal disease. Check regularly for leaf spot, which shows up as brown areas on the leaves. Pinch off the affected leaves to prevent the fungus from spreading to the rest of the plant. Grayish-black marks on the stems may mean root rot. Give your Celosia plants plenty of aeration and make sure theyre in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. If you keep your Celosia indoors, it may attract mites, which feed on leaf sap. To control mites, lightly spray the leaves with a mixture of one teaspoon of mild dish liquid in one liter of water.
Varieties of Cockscomb to Try in Your Garden
Native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and South America, Celosia (Cockscomb) can be divided into three groups.
A crested type, Celosia cristata, also known as cockscomb Celosia. The flower heads resemble the structures of a brain and in some varieties a rooster’s comb. Hence the name. It blooms in red, yellow, pink, white, and orange.
A plume type, Celosia argentea, also known as plumed Celosia. The flowers appear as feathery plumes and come in the shape of an arrowhead. They come in green-yellow and apricot-orange plumes. You’ll find them in plant shops under C. argentea or C. plumosa labels.
A spike type, Celosia spicata, also known as wheat Celosia. The flower heads resemble a head of wheat or a bottle brush. The flower colors are not as bright as with other types, but they come in rose-pink, white and dark red varieties.
Celosia (Cockscomb) FAQ
Are Celosia (Cockscomb) easy to grow?
Celosia (Cockscomb) is commonly described as easy to grow. As long as you satiate its soil and sunlight requirements, the plant will do well. It will spread on its own if left unattended.
Can you plant Celosia (Cockscomb) in a pot?
Cockscomb can be grown in containers, resulting in a more compact plant. This is one of the most effortless ways to grow the plant. Flower clusters will grow plenty of seeds that will propagate without much work on your part.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Spread the seeds in a tray filled with a high-quality potting mix.
- Cover the seeds with ¼ inch potting soil.
- Mist the soil with water and cover the tray with plastic wrap. Do this every day as needed to keep it moist. The seeds will not germinate if they dry out, so this point is important.
- If kept indoors, keep the plant on a windowsill or in a sunroom so it receives plenty of sun.
Do Celosia (Cockscomb) plants come back every year?
Celosia (Cockscomb) is considered a tender perennial in zones 9 and 10, or a hardy annual otherwise. In warmer climate areas, you can get it to grow back year after year. In most climates, though, they will need to be replanted each year. The plant is also known for its unpredictable behavior. Although an annual, cockscomb will often reseed and give you plenty of flowers for the next season.
Is the entire plant safe to eat?
The Celosia (Cockscomb) is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it an ideal plant for indoor herb gardens. The flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant are all edible. Celosias are prized in Africa and East Asia as an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron. The leaves can be eaten raw, parboiled, or sautéed. For a delicious side dish, add onion, lime juice, or a dash of chili oil. Celosia leaves soften quickly, so be careful not to overcook them. The flowers are commonly used in soups and stews or can be added as a garnish to salads.