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Growing Celosia Flowers (Wool Flowers, Cockscomb) | Flower Patch | North American Farmer

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Growing Celosia Flowers

Celosia: Enliven Your Home Garden with Eye-catching, Flame-like Blooms

by Frances Santos

Celosia FlowersCelosia flowers are also known as woolflowers or cockscomb. The Celosia is a member of the amaranth family, and originated from the native regions of Asia and Africa. Its name is derived from a greek word, “kelos” which means “burned”, as most varieties of Celosia, like Flamingo Feather have spiky, flame-like flower head.

Other varieties like Amish Cockscomb are endowed with astounding rippled flower heads that look like a brain! Have you seen it up close? It’s stunning! It also has texture similar to ruffled velvet. No wonder why many gardeners are fascinated with its exotic beauty.

If you want an eye-catching display of flower clusters in borders or as edging, Celosia is a perfect choice. It is also great for bouquets, fresh or dried.  Although here are a lot of beautiful varieties with yellow, orange, gold, pink, purple, orange and amethyst flowers, the most favored colors are brilliant red, crimson and rose.

But what’s interesting about Celosia is that it’s herbal. In fact, the medicinal use of the plants is eminent in Asia and Africa especially in rural areas.

Although Celosia’s use as alternative cure for various ailments is not yet clinically proven, many people still use Celosia.  Celosia seed is believed to be ophthalmic, hypotensive, and has antibacterial properties. It is used to treat eye problems such as blurred vision, cataracts, and blood shot eyes.

However, precaution must be taken because it causes dilation of pupils and is not advisable for patients with glaucoma. Celosia flower is also used to treat diarrhea, bloody stool, and uterine bleeding. Celosia plants are well-known for treating tapeworm, and other types of parasites.

Celosia Propagation

Celosia is easy to propagate. In fact, it is self-seeding and spreads over the garden effortlessly during growing season. It will only grow for a year and the key to growing healthy, vibrant Celosia is rich, loamy and well-drained soil.  You can propagate by seeds or you may purchase young plants from your local garden center. But since, it’s not that hard to start seed, it’s recommended not to spend so much purchasing young plants. Okay, let’s start.

It is ideal to have an indoor start 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Add flower potting soil or seed starting mix to a container with drain holes. Place seeds and cover them completely with soil, or else the seeds will not germinate. Sprouts will appear after 10-20 days. Afterwards, set the plants on a sunny location— better if you have grow lights. Temperature must be kept warm about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Grow Celosia Flowers

Young plants can be transplanted outdoors when there is no longer risk for frost. However, it is essential to move them before they become pot bound in order to prevent weak plants.  When planted outdoors, choose a plant site with rich soil and has access to full sun. It’s best to transplant young plants in the evening. This will allow young plants to get acclimated outdoors throughout the night and prevent shock. Nourish plants by adding liberal amounts of compost before planting. Smaller varieties of Celosia should be spaced approximately 18 inches apart while larger varieties should be spaced around 24 inches apart. Smaller varieties can reach 12 inches, while larger types can grow as high as 30 inches or 3 feet.

Water the plants frequently for a week, and then reduce it to once a week. During dry periods, it should be watered on a regular basis. The soil should be kept moist but not saturated. For ideal growth, it is recommended to add some general purpose fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Once established, the plant will become tolerant to drought and heat. But listen, the blooms might turn brown and rot if conditions become too humid.

Caring for Celosia Flowers

Pinch back early blooms in order to have more branches resulting to bigger and more colourful plumes. Support large varieties and avoid overhead watering. Always keep the flowers, leaves and stem dry as possible.

Celosia Pests and Diseases

Plants are somewhat resistant to disease. However, aphids eat the stem and leaves. Aphids can be treated with repellents, insecticide or fungicide.

Celosia Useful Tips:

To dry plants, Hang the flowers upside down in a cool, dry and dark location for two months. Dry Celosia flowers make a pretty bouquet.