Celosia argentea (Cristata Group) 'Tornado Red'

Common Name: cockscomb 
Type: Annual
Family: Amaranthaceae
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: May to frost
Bloom Description: Magenta-red
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


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 cultivars are typically divided into three general groups: (1) Cristata Group, (2) Plumosa Group, and (3) Spicata Group.

Cristata Group plants, commonly called cockscombs, 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). Can be found listed under various names including C. argentea var. cristata (Cristata Group), C. argentea var. cristata, and C. cristata.

Genus name comes from the Greek word keleos meaning burning for the colorful flowers.

The specific epithet argentea means "silvery", in reference to the shiny, white bracts and tepals of the species. The group name Cristata means "having tassel-like tips or crested" in reference to the shape of the inflorescence.

'Tornado Red' features 8-12" wide, magenta-red flowerheads atop sturdy, 2' tall stems.


Susceptible to root rot, particularly in poorly-drained soils. Fungal leaf spot diseases may also occur.


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