You probably recognize celosia for its use in dried wreaths and as cut flowers in floral arrangements. Deep red is the most common color, like the ‘Arrabona Red’ variety that comes in bold red-orange color.
Other vibrant colors such as purple, yellow, and pink celosia flower varieties have also gained popularity in recent years. They make a great focal point for any garden.
This annual plant has a velvety, ruffled form that is often compared to a cockscomb, or even a brain. In fact, it’s commonly known as cockscomb or wool flower.
It seems like an exotic flower, but it’s not difficult to grow in the home garden. It adds a striking accent to other flowers in the garden.
If you’re wondering about celosia, planting, care, and growing tips, we’re here to answer all your questions.
How to Grow Celosia
Celosia is one plant that requires minimum maintenance. But let’s look at ideal conditions for growing celosia in terms of soil, light, drainage, and more.
Though it’ll thrive in nutrient-poor soil, you’ll aid its growth by adding soil amendments. Organic matter such as well-aged cow manure, peat, and leaf compost will all promote its growth.
Here’s how you can unleash the full potential of your cockscomb flowers:
- When growing celosia, expose the plants to at least eight hours of full sun a day.
- Plant it in well-drained soil. Otherwise, the plant is likely to develop root rot.
- Taller varieties may have trouble supporting the weight of their blooms. In this case, stake the plants to provide much-needed support.
- Apply a 3 to 6-inch layer of soil amendment 10 to 12 inches deep into your garden beds.
- Add sulfur, should you need to lower the pH and lime should you need to raise it. The plant prefers a pH of 6.0–7.0.
- Although drought-tolerant, water your cockscomb flowers regularly. Working in a 3-inch layer of organic mulch can help control weeds and keep the soil moist.
Popular Varieties of Celosia Flowers
Is there not much variety to your garden aside from the zinnias and marigolds? Do you feel that the flower species you grow are a dime a dozen?
Growing celosias can help here. Celosia varieties include over 50 species within the Celosia genus, they’re perfect for adding variety to your garden. They’re often used as ornamental plants, as cut flowers, or dry arrangements.
Native to tropical regions of Southeast Asia and South America, celosias 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 type 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.
Aside from being well-suited for use as a cut flower, cockscomb blooms are great to add a splash of color to your garden beds. Celosia argentea is most popular for growing indoors in containers.
When growing celosia, be aware the plants will grow up to 30 inches high. Although you have options down to 10-12 inches in smaller varieties. And some dwarf varieties such as ‘Jewel Box,’ will grow only 6 to 8 inches tall.
Common Celosia Pests and Diseases
Common celosia diseases include powdery mildew, edema, and fungal leaf spot. These problems can usually be avoided through good cultural practices:
- Space the plants at least 6 to 12 inches apart so air circulates freely.
- Use soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinklers, which encourage the spread of disease. Avoid working in the garden when it’s wet.
- Mites can often infest cockscomb flowers, but in most cases, the damage isn’t severe. Plant them in a new location if you experience these pest problems.
- Root rot can be a common problem with poorly drained soils and can affect celosia. If growing your Celosia argentea in pots, getting a pot with a drainage hole will keep the problem at bay.
Cockscomb Flowers: Frequently Asked Questions [With Answers]
Are Celosia Easy To Grow?
Celosia 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.
How Do You Plant Celosia?
You’ll find celosia in your local nursery or garden center in late spring, which is the simplest way to grow them. It doesn’t tolerate frost, so you should plant it outside only after warm weather has arrived.
When buying nursery plants or celosia seedlings from your garden center check the root ball. Avoid plants with tangled, crowded roots, which will grow slowly or not at all.
Alternatively, you can start celosia from seed. You can sow seeds directly outside after the last frost or start them indoors. Here are a few planting tips to have in mind:
- If starting seeds outdoors, sow directly into the ground or in a pot.
- If starting plants inside in a seed tray indoors, plant seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Soil temperature should be kept at 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Plant the seeds in containers or in peat or coir pots that are transplanted with the seedling. Cockscomb can be fussy about having its roots disturbed.
- Move outdoors two weeks after the last frost date, or wait longer if it is still getting cold at night. The seedling will be ready for planting outdoors when it gets 4 inches tall.
Barely cover the seeds with soil, and they will sprout in six to 14 days. The plant grows best when it’s given a layer of mulch.
Should You Prune the Plant?
You can pinch back your celosia stems to encourage a bushier plant, but it isn’t mandatory.
By pinching it, you will also encourage the growth of plumes and get a more uniform look.
- When plants are 8–12 inches tall, remove any dead leaves, limbs, and flowers. Use it by pinching the stem with your thumb and index finger or use gardening scissors.
- Remove old blooms as they fade to keep the plant looking its best.
Can You Plant Celosia in Pots?
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 or sunny window so it receives plenty of direct light.
Can You Take Cuttings From Celosia?
Yes, and they are easy to root. You can place them directly into their final containers and leave them to root on their own. The process will take three to four weeks.
You can choose to root your cuttings in water or sand.
Do Celosia Plants Come Back Every Year?
Celosia is considered a tender perennial in USDA 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.
Yet, 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.
Do Celosia Plants Spread?
Once cockscomb is established, it will self-seed and spread throughout the garden.
Do Slugs Eat the Plant?
Yes, slugs will feast on the plant’s foliage, leaving large holes in the leaves, or eating whole leaves in their entirety.
This is usually a problem only in damp weather conditions. You can tell where a slug has been because of the slime trail that they leave behind them.
Does the Plant Attract Bees?
Celosia does attract bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies and wasps. One of the best ways to help pollinate your vegetable garden is to plant celosias nearby. They will ensure pollination and fruit set on vegetable plants.
Does Celosia Bloom All Summer?
Cockscomb does not begin blooming until late summer. Yet, you can have your blossoms all through late fall.
Does Celosia Need Full Sun?
Celosia can be grown in full sun, but it also does well in partial shade. It’s best to plant your cockscomb seeds when temperatures hit over 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is Celosia an Annual Or a Perennial?
In USDA hardiness zones 10-11, celosia grows as a perennial, since it can survive the winter. In other zones, it is an annual plant.
How Do You Keep Celosia Blooming?
Celosia benefits from fertilization every four weeks or so. Add nutrient-rich compost or liquid nitrogen fertilizer.
If you suspect nutritional deficiencies when you grow celosia, fertilize your celosia with seaweed or fish emulsion to encourage blooming.
In the hottest part of the summer, revitalize celosia with a liquid fertilizer.
How Far Apart Should Celosia Be Planted?
Cockscomb seedlings should be planted 8 inches apart. The only exception is when you’re planting an especially large variety. Then they should be spaced about a foot apart.
How Long Do Celosia Plants Last?
Celosia blooms for up to 10 weeks, and it will live until the first frost when it can be cut and dried. You can promote further growth by pruning dead flowers.
How Long Does It Take for Celosia Seeds to Germinate?
Celosia seeds germinate within six to 14 days. After this, it takes celosia about four months to grow to maturity and begin flowering.
What Can I Plant With Dragon’s Breath?
Dragon’s Breath partners well with other low-maintenance annuals. Some of those are zinnia (Zinnia Elegans) or marigold (Tagetes or Calendula).
They also pair with globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) and red amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus).
Other varieties of celosia also make a nice display. Different strains can grow to heights from 6 inches to 3 feet and can add variety to your garden.
Why Is My Celosia Dying?
There are a variety of reasons your celosia may be dying. Check that the soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0 and that plants are getting full sunlight to partial shade. Loamy soil is best. Celosias can handle clay soil, but combining them with too much rainfall can cause their deaths.
Lack of sufficient sunshine and irrigation can lead to diseases like stem rot or leaf spot when growing celosia.
Soil should be kept moist, as celosia needs consistent moisture. Celosia will wilt if it’s not getting enough water, and it does best when provided with a layer of mulch.
Will Celosia Reseed Itself?
Yes, cockscomb will propagate itself if left to its own devices. It needs no assistance from the
gardener to reseed itself.
If you want your cockscomb flowers for another year, leave some blooms at the end of the season and they will reseed themselves.
Will Celosia Survive Winter?
Celosia flowers will not survive winter in most zones, as it does not tolerate cold well. However, it is grown as a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10-11.
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For More Information about Celosia, visit the following sites:
Texas A&M University covers Celosia
New York Botanical Garden covers Should I cut dead flowers off of my celosia?
Celosia plumosa from the University of Florida IFAS Extension.
YouTube has a great video about the basics of cockscomb flowers.
When she’s not writing about gardening, food, and canning, Julie Christensen enjoys spending time in her garden, which includes perennials, vegetables, and fruit trees. She’s written hundreds of gardening articles for the Gardening Channel, Garden Guides, and San Francisco Gate, as well as several e-books.
Nonoette Day says
You covered what is needed for plant growth. But, I would like some examples of the type of gardens and what plants will help with growth. Such as a raised bed with your roses or below a window with azaleas or holly
Could you suggest the weather conditions required for cockscomb.
Dawn Rogers says
Cockscomb is really easy to grow and produces tons of seeds. Throw the seeds out and with hardly any work you will see the little sprouts growing. Thin them often for larger plants.
where are the seeds on my current celosia plant please. I am planning on growing my garden from seed next year..
where are the seeds on my current celosia plant?
tim howard says
i harvested about 200 seeds from my celosia after they’d died back. they’re very tiny black seeds hidden in the centre of the flower head.
Roger Becker says
Seeds are where the dried flowers are in the base of part of the flower ? the little flower has one seed in it
Angela Butler says
When I plant my celosia transplants out, many times there are small flowers beginning to grow on the plants. Some of the varieties can not be pruned back to help the young plant get established. Do you know which ones cannot be pruned back?
I live in PA. Can celosia be brought inside and wintered over?
Hi Michelle, it looks like many have asked questions but this site seems unattended. I know that doesn’t help you. Since your celosia might have survived last winter, could I please ask what you did? It is autumn here in Sydney, Aus, and I am wondering if I should plant celosia outside or inside. We have frost in July-Aug, not as much as US. If I plant outside it might get acclimatized Thanks,
I am in New Jersey . I have had them for a few years now. I have never brought them in for the winter . I just leave them out and they come back every year. They seem to grow just about anywhere . One year, some sprouted up in nautical rope that I had on top of wood around my flowerbed .
Imelda Santos Canlas says
We have a Celosia plants just start the first blooms first week of June of this year. My husband and I are really amazed, because it’s 5 feet high already. As we know they just reach at least 30 inches. Maybe Celosia plants love the weather here in the Philippines,. My husband used the cow manure when he planted it, and they are on full sunshine and watering everyday. So can we transfer it in a pot and can be an indoor plant? Thank you.
lia strucich says
My Celosia reseeded itself from last years flowers, which were beautiful large brain-like flower heads. However, the plants which are blooming this year from the self sown seeds of last years plants are not producing those same brain type flowers, instead they are producing spike type flowers. The plants are 3-4+ feet in height, much like last years plants but otherwise flowering totally different. Why would that be? Has anyone else experienced similar growing characteristics?
I do know that if it’s a hybrid, and not an heirloom, the “children” from seeds will not be like the parent. Hope that helps.
If the variety you had as a “parent” plant was a hybrid, the “offspring” won’t necessarily be the same plant you started with. Plants grown from seeds of a hybrid will “outcross”, meaning that the parent plant was the result of cross breeding two different kinds to get the desired properties ranging from hardiness, disease resistance, desired appearance, etc. The offspring will have the traits from their “grandparent” plants.
I had that happen with a Sheffield chrysanthemum that was a hybrid. As long as I religiously dead headed the blossoms and prevented them from dropping seeds, the mum always came back looking as the original plant did ….. beautiful soft pink petals with a bright yellow eye. One year I was not able to keep up with the dead heading, in fact I was not able to even get the plant cut back for the winter …… so the soil around the mum and down in amongst the stems got self seeded. The following year come blossom time, I had the original coloring in the blossoms with loads of stems from the dropped seeds that were white, yellow, a deeper pink, and the eyes of the blossoms were a variety of shades of yellow and orange. No longer do I get any of the original soft pink. The blossoms range are either white or soft yellow, and after about 4 or 5 weeks, they start to get a pink “staining” appearance around the edges of some of the petals. Such are the adventures in growing outcrossed flowers.
Kirk taylor says
Will deer or other animals eat the flowers?
Diedre Lenard says
I live in Pennsylvania & acquired a beautiful deep red cockscomb celosia. What should I do when I start to bring it indoors before the frost comes? Does it need to be reported, give it what type of fertilizer, & how often does it need to be watered?
Will it come back next year.
Can I move it to another location in my yard and when?
My celosias were in a container all summer and dropped many seeds in the fall. I have kept the container indoors all winter (I’m in GA), should i water at any point?
Can I split my clelosia plant to put it into 2 pits?
I wouldn’t if I were you. The plants don’t really like their roots disturbed a lot.