Popular annuals for bright bedding schemes and borders. Celosia argentea (shown right) is easily recognisable, with its vivid coloured plumes protruding above bright green or reddish leaves. The flowers are prized for their long-lasting stable colouring.
Botanical Name: Celosia
Common Names: cockscomb, Prince of Wales’ feathers, woolflowers.
Foliage: Deciduous, simple or lobed, alternate leaves, in hues of green or purple/red.
Flowers: Plume-like sprays of tiny, brightly coloured flowers, in shades of yellow, orange and red. Plumed flowers are commonly called Prince of Wales’ feathers, whereas the crested forms are called cockscomb.
Flowering Period: Mid-summer to early autumn.
Soil: Rich, well-drained soil. Chalk, sand or loam. Any pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Grow in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered possition.
Type: Half-hardy annuals and perennials.
Origin: Africa, South America and West Indies
Hardiness: H2 - Half-hardy (protect from frost).
Annuals can be planted outside once frosts have passed. Grow on, in a moist but well-drained fertile soil, in full sun and in a sheltered position. Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser every few weeks.
An excellent choice for bedding schemes or in mid border displays, pots or containers. Suitable for growing in town and city gardens, courtyard gardens, cottage, formal and informal gardens.
The blooms of C. argentea make very good and long lasting cut flowers.
Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.
Susceptible to infestation by red spider mite, whitefly and aphids, especially when grown under glass. Can be affected by root rot, fungal and leaf spot diseases.
Sow seeds in trays in late winter at 18°C (64°F). Grow on undercover in a loam-based potting compost (such as John Innes No 1), in a well ventilated area in full light. Plant out once all danger of frost has passed.
Most garden varieties are hybrids of C. argentea var. cristata or plumosa.
‘Apricot Brandy’, fiery orange plumed flowers. Height 20in (50cm).
‘Dwarf Fairy Fountains’, has plumed flowers in pastel shades. Height 12-15in (30-38cm).
‘Flamingo Feather’, has bicoloured rose and deep pink flower spikes. Height to 12in (60cm). Good for drying.
‘Jewel Box Mixed’, crested blooms in mixed colours. Height 9in (23cm)
‘Kimono Mixed’, with cream, yellow, orange or scarlet plumes. Height 4in (10cm). Ideal for containers