Celosia argentea var. cristata (Cristata Group)
Common Name: cockscomb
Type: Annual
Family: Amaranthaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Orange, red, purple, yellow or pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil

Culture

Celosia is a tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11. It is grown in the St. Louis area as a warm weather annual. It is easily grown in humusy, moderately fertile, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade and dry soils. Thrives in hot and humid St. Louis summers. Seed may be sown directly in the garden after last spring frost date. For earlier bloom, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Set out seedlings or purchased plants after last frost date. Taller cultivars should be planted in locations sheltered from strong winds. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong bloom.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Celosia argentea var. cristata is currently divided into four different groups: (1) Cristata Group, (2) Plumosa Group, (3) Childsii Group and (4) Spicata Group. Cristata Group plants, commonly called cockscombs, are old garden favorites that feature fasciated, large crested flower heads (3-12” across), with each flower head somewhat resembling the comb of a rooster. Flower colors include bright shades of orange, red, purple, yellow and pink. Flowers bloom throughout summer into fall (sometimes to frost) on stems clad with spear-shaped green to red-purple leaves. The flower heads sometimes project an artificial, almost plastic-like appearance that, to some gardeners, may border on the gaudy. Cristata Group cultivars range in size from dwarf to tall (8-36”). Selections include the Jewel Box Series (to 6-8” tall) and the Big Chief Series (to 3’ tall). Genus name comes from a Greek word meaning “burning” in probably reference to flower head appearance of the erect Plumosa Group-type cultivars.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to root rot, particularly in poorly-drained soils. Fungal leaf spot diseases may also occur. Taller cultivars require staking.

Garden Uses

Mass or group in beds, borders or cutting gardens. Good fresh cut or dried flower. Containers.