Cockscomb, or celosia, is an ornamental annual plant growing between 6 (dwarf variety) and 24 inches tall. The plant gets its name from the comb on the head of birds, like chicken. Male fowls, known as cocks, have a larger comb than females. The sturdy, brilliant red-spiked summer blooms of the cockscomb plant attract bees. The feathered cockscomb varieties produces feathery plumes in shades of yellow or red that are up to 10 inches tall. When blooms are left to dry on the plant, seeds will fall and sprout the following spring.
Where to Plant
Choose a sunny to partially shady, well-drained location. Cockscomb is not particular about soil conditions, but adding some organic matter like leaf mold or compost, will produce a healthier plant.
How to Plant
Sow seeds indoors in late winter (March or April) to transplant outdoors in early spring. Seeds can also be sown directly outdoors in the spring when the ground is workable. Sprinkle the seeds over soil that has been worked down to about 8 inches and then cover lightly.
Potted plants and seedlings can be planted in early spring. To loosen the soil for easier root expansion, dig the hole twice as wide and deep as the potted plant or at least 8 inches down if transplanting seedlings.
Set plants 12 to 24 inches apart. If seeds were planted outdoors, remove weaker plants when 2 to 4 inches tall to create spacing.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the cockscomb plants. If organic matter is not included in the planting process, then sprinkle about 1 tbsp. of slow-release fertilizer around the plant. Stake larger cockscomb if the weight of the bloom arches the stem.
Plant short varieties of cockscomb as a border. Plant groupings of taller varieties behind shorter border plants. Cuttings can be used in floral arrangements or dried for year-around enjoyment.
End of Season
Pull the dead plants from ground in the fall after frost causes them to die back. If the blooms were left to seed, the plants can remain in the ground to decay, covering and providing nutrients to the seeds.