Dictionary of Flowers: Celosia (Cockscomb)

Celosia (Cockscomb). Its common name is well deserved! Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Toshihiro Gamo and Flickr
Pin It

Celosia (Cockscomb). Its common name is well deserved! Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Toshihiro Gamo and Flickr

  • Celosia
  • Common name: celosia, cockscomb
  • Family: Amaranthaceae
  • Category: annual
  • Height: up to 16", certain varieties can grow taller
  • Width: 12
  • Sun
  • Blooms: summer
  • Growth habit: upright. Grown as a filler or thriller in containers
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, free draining. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, edge of border, mass planting, mixed border
  • Diseases: leaf spot, stem and root rot
  • Pests: spider mites, nematodes

This genus of annual plants is native to tropical regions.

The celosia genus is divided into groups, according to the bloom’s shape.

The species 'cristata' includes annuals with velvety blooms that resemble a rooster's comb, thus the common name.

The 'plumosa' group contains plants with blooms resembling a plume or feather. Celosia 'spicata' species has blooms in the shape of a wheat head. 

Bloom color ranges from yellow to deepest reds. 

Celosia prefers hot, humid summers. In tropical regions, it grows as a perennial. It is very sensitive to cold temperatures. Celosia needs to be planted outside when the weather has warmed up and nighttime temperatures remain above 55F.

Abrupt changes in temperature can stunt the growth of the plant. However, it's a great garden performer in areas with hot summer days and nights.

Plant in fertile soil or good quality potting mix when planting in containers. Keep the soil evenly moist.

It has a tendency to re-seed vigorously, so it is best to deadhead to avoid unwanted plants. To save seed, allow a few flowers to remain towards the end of summer.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Celosia is available as starter plants in nurseries in early summer. They can be very easily grown from seed. If buying starter plants, select the ones without flowers.

If not available, remove the flowers before planting.

Disturb the plant roots as little as possible when transplanting. If starting from seed indoors, wait till one or two weeks after the last frost date. Plant seed in peat pots, barely covering it.

Kept at warm room temperature (68 to 75F), seeds germinate in as little as five days. Once plants have a few sets of true leaves, harden off carefully. Celosia doesn't like sudden temperature changes, so wait until it is very warm outside to harden off.

Don't disturb the roots when transplanting the seedlings; plant the peat pots level with soil level. Apply a balanced fertilizer every month during the growing season.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Stem and root rot can happen in cold, wet weather. Wait to plant outside until temperature has warmed up and make sure drainage in the area where planted is good.

Spider mites can be treated with an insecticide for outdoor blooming plants. Nematode problems are complicated to treat, but removing the soil/potting mix and discarding, replacing with new soil might delay the disease. Discard affected plants.

Popular varieties:

  • Celosia plumosa 'Castle Series' - dark green leaves with blooms available in yellow, pink, orange and scarlet red. Short variety (12 inches) very suitable for containers
  • Celosia cristata 'Prestige' - scarlet red flowers on dark green foliage. Short, suitable for containers
  • Celosia plumosa 'Ice Cream' series - yellow, orange, pink and red flowers on compact plants with large plumes
  • Celosia plumosa 'New Look' series - medium sized variety with dark puple tinged foliage. Blooms yellow, orange or red
  • Celosia cristata 'Armor' series -short, cockscomb type. Great choice for containers. Flowers can be yellow, bright red or burgundy

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Celosia (Cockscomb) to the Dictionary of Flowers

More great ideas for Container Gardening!

Leave Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.