A cockscomb is a flower native to Central America, South America, Asia, and Africa. Its botanical name is Celosia argentea var crisata. It’s a low-maintenance flower that grows well in fast-draining soils, preferably in US hardiness zones, 9-12. If you want to add it to your outdoor flower bed or indoors, it would be best to understand its growing conditions to stay healthy and retain its beautiful colors. Here is a care guide for cockscomb flowers, but first, learn what it looks like so you know what to expect.
According to The Spruce, cockscomb flowers have the following characteristics:
- It may be plump and have spikes
- It can grow in many colors like yellow, pink, orange, and white, but the red variety is more predominant.
- It mimics a cock’s comb rooster’s head
- It can grow to 1 meter in height
- It often reseeds, particularly in spring and summer
- It is drought-resistant, making it a low-maintenance houseplant
Celosia has been widely recognized for its beauty since the Victorian era. It represents humor and warmth.
How to care for cockscomb flowers
Growing and caring for a cockscomb flower can be rewarding if you expose it to the right conditions as a gardening enthusiast. Here are some tips to ensure your plant stays healthy and supplies wealth to your other houseplants.
Expose to partial sun
A cockscomb flower needs partial sun, making it necessary to grow it under taller plants. Direct and prolonged sun (more than four hours) sucks its juices, putting it at risk of wilting. If you’re growing it indoors, ensure you place it in a south-facing window. The perennial grows better in USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11. Other regions in the US also grow it as an annual flower for only three months.
Fertilize it during blooms
According to Balcony Garden Web, the plant starts blooming in spring, a season where most plants are actively growing. It is the right time to add fertilizers to the plant so you don’t have to repeat the fertilizer application the rest of the year. Provide it with nitrogen and other micronutrients every two to four weeks with the weak and water-soluble fertilizer solution to boost its growth. You can accomplish that by adding 1.7 pounds of cottonseed meal per 100 sq. ft, utilizing the 0.1 pounds of nitrogen that the product provides. Alternatively, get fertilizer in the ratio of 10:6:4, and the plant will be happy. It’s also advisable to add manure to the soil to supply it with nutrients. The plant also needs extra fertilizer application during summer to boost blooming and root formation before autumn arrives.
Like other houseplants, a cockscomb flower needs warmth and moisture to boost its energy production. The best way to supply it with these two vital elements is through mulching. Doing so also prevents weed infestation, encouraging your plant to access the sun and nutrients from the soil. Remember to remove mulch before applying fertilizer so that it can reach the soil.
Since it is a warm-loving plant, the best temperature a cockscomb prefers is 60-degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re in USDA hardiness zones in 9-11, moving the plant indoors during cold months in winter would be best.
According to Garden Beast, Celosia cristata is best grown at low pH (6.0-7.0). That means it’s happy in neutral-acidic soils. Get a soil test kit if you’re not sure about the soil pH. The device will show the precise pH status, allowing you to tailor the right growing conditions for your cockscomb flowers. Alternatively, get an organic soil mix that drains quickly to prevent root rot. You can also amend the soil before growing it using compost to improve drainage.
If you want to grow this plant indoors, you should first get a porous pot, preferably terracotta material. This pot is porous, allowing the roots to breathe and drain off excess water. Plastic pots don’t encourage porosity, hence may aggravate root rot. Poke holes in plastic pots for easy drainage.
Pruning a celosia involves pinching its stems to make it grow dense, but it isn’t necessary. You’re only doing it to encourage uniformity. Use sterilized gardening scissors or your thumb and index fingers to pinch the dead leaves and limbs. Please do the same for old blooms to improve their appearance.
Your region’s climate greatly determines how many times your plant needs watering. Depending on preexisting conditions like sun intensity and humidity, you can water it every five to twelve days. Ensure the stems, flowers, and leaves aren’t exposed to water when watering. Doing so only makes its flowers prone to marring and foliage to diseases. Therefore, the best watering practice is the pan method.
How to grow a cockscomb flower using seeds
Cockscomb also doesn’t acclimatize well when transplanted. Therefore, it’s best to plant the seeds in their final pots after the chilly months, when soil temperatures are 60-degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a soil thermometer to monitor the temperature to know when to sow the seeds. When sowing, ensure you spread them thinly and cover them with the potting soil. You should start noticing the seeds sprouting after two weeks if the soil is adequately watered and at favorable temperatures. If you sow the seeds in cooler conditions, germination might take more than two weeks. Always ensure the soil is moist through gentle spraying instead of a garden hose. After the seeds have sprouted to seedlings of three inches in height, thin them out. The variety you’re growing influences how to space them, though the ideal spacing should be around 18 inches.
Growing and caring for a celosia flower is a rewarding experience because it’s low-maintenance. Expose it to these conditions and watch the flower bloom to its full potential, accentuating your indoor or outdoor space.