Celosia, also known as cockscomb, is a half hardy annual that has been a popular garden plant since the Victorian era. They produce yellow, pink, red, and orange blossoms from summer into early fall. They grow up to 4 feet tall and should be planted in large groupings for visual effect. Here are a few tips on how to plant and grow healthy, robust celosia:
Plant the seeds of celosia outdoors in the spring after all danger of frost is passed. Space them 12 to 20 inches and plant in a sunny area. Cover them lightly with soil. Plant several seeds together and thin out all but the strongest seedlings.
If you want to get a head start, plant them in good potting soil in peat pots six to eight weeks before the frost free date. They will germinate in five days to two weeks. Keep them in a fairly warm space, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly warmer. Keep them evenly moist during this time. Transplant the celosia to your garden after the last frost, following a week or so of gradual hardening.
You can also buy seedling from nurseries but make sure they aren't pot bound. Check for roots growing out the drainage holes. If this is the case, don't buy them as they won't perform well in your garden.
Celosia like full sunlight, moist soil, and will do fine in average soil. They prefer a soil pH of 6 to 7. Water them regularly as they do like to be moist. You can fertilize them with a dilute fertilizer designed for flowering plants. They grow best in warm areas and can tolerate almost anything except cold.
Celosia is used as a food and medicinal plant in India, South America, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. They can be used to treat tapeworm and mouth sores. The flowers can also be dried for winter bouquets.
Celosia grows as a perennial in USDA zones 10 and 11. It can be grown as an annual in zones 6 to 9.