Celosia, a member of the Amaranthaceae family, is also known as garden cockscomb, red fox or wool flower, and originated in tropical Asia, most commonly India. It is invaluable as a mass-planted bedding variety, container filler, and glorious mixed summer-border specimen. The flowers show in vibrant shades of orange, yellow, bronze, red, scarlet, pink and magenta, so make for wonderful 'hot-spots' of intense, textured colour in the garden.
There are two distinct species of Celosia. C. argentea is cultivated for its tall, showy heads of dainty, plumed flowers. C. cristata, (the true 'cockscomb"), is a lower growing plant, and produces distinctive heads of stiff, compact, densely packed blooms. They put on a long and delightful display of colourful abundance during the warmer months. Hybridization has resulted in the availability of tall and dwarf varieties in both species.
Celosia was originally classified as a weed, but has become an incredibly popular summer bedding variety. It can take lots of direct sunlight, and requires only minimal care and watering once established. The plant is hardy and wind-resistant, so is particularly useful in gardens which are exposed to strong winds, or are located in coastal areas.
Celosia can be grown with success in all regions of the country. It will do particularly well in well-drained soil enriched with compost, and with an occasional sprinkling of complete, water-soluble fertilizer. Varieties such as celosia argentea 'Pyramidalis', with its brilliant red clusters of feathery flowers, is just one example of the many cultivars which bring vibrant colour, and enduring vigour to the summer landscape.
Text by Liz Killassy