Cotton is one of the most important cash crops in America. However, an enormous amount of care has to be taken—including the use of growth inhibitors—in order to prevent the cotton from growing out of control.
Wild cotton has the ability to grow very tall and spread out very wide when they have adequate moist soil and plenty of sun. While pesky to landscapers, they can be easily brought under control using herbicides.
Wild cotton is also known as swamp mallow, Swamp Rose-Mallow, Desert Cotton and Arizona Cotton. The highest height reached by wild cotton is seven feet. The flower that grows on the wild cotton develops creamy white or pink flowers, with the base of the wild cotton plant colored purple or dark crimson. The foliage of the wild cotton is 3 to 8 inches long, is shaped like eggs or lances and are toothed along the edges.
Wild cotton is a perennial plant. The flowers bloom in the summer and in the fall. When the roots are traveling deep into the soil, the soil must be warm, free of disease, loose, well drained and have an acidic soil in order to develop properly due to deficient nutrient absorption.
The original wild cotton vines were found in Africa, Arabia, Australia and Mesoamerica. Moist soil and partial shade are the ideal growing conditions for wild cotton, though the cotton plant can develop a deep taproot to search for more water as deep as 10 inches. They are often growing in the south-central and south-eastern Arizona and Northern Mexico region. The type of fruit that the wild cotton grows depends on the weather and soil conditions.
Under the right conditions, wild cotton can grow very tall. The meristems, which are specialized stems that attach to the leave structures, can also cause the wild cotton to grow very broadly. These enormous cotton plants are more susceptible to boll rot, a disease of the cotton fruit that cause the cotton bolls to blacken. Water stress, shading, high temperatures and poor nutrients can also harm the cotton bolls, causing them to fall off.
Insects that are harmful to the leaves of the wild cotton are the cotton aphids, cowpea aphids, tarnished plant bugs, thrips and the twospotted spider mites. Some species of caterpillars are also harmful to the wild cotton including the beet armyworms, fall armyworms, yellowstriped armyworms, cabbage loopers, black cutworms, granulated cutworms and variegated cutworms. Some insects attack and destroy the cotton bolls such as the weevil larva and the weevil adults.