Celosia is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. It comprises a group of plants bearing vividly-colored flower heads and comes in varieties of many sizes, from only a few inches up to about 5 feet high. Growing as annuals in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 2 through 9 and as perennials in zones 10 through 12, Celosias are one of the most eye-catching ornamental plants in the garden. In addition to their magnificence look in the garden, taller varieties are excellent as cut flowers – both fresh and dried.
Ornamental Celosia plants for gardens are commonly classified into three groups: a crested type (Cristata Group), a plume type (Plumosa Group) and a spike or wheat type (Spicata Groupa).
- Cristata Group (Celosia argentea var. cristata): Commonly known as cockscomb, since its wrinkly-looking flower knobs looks like the head on a rooster. The plants are hardy and resistant to most diseases, and grow equally well indoors or out.
- Plumosa Group (Celosia argentea var. plumosa): Also known as feather Celosia, it is probably the most popular type of Celosia to be found in the garden. The flower heads are soft, velvety and feathery plumes in vivid colors.
- Spicata Group (Celosia spicata): Also called wheat celosia, because its flower heads resemble heads of wheat. This type of celosia looks almost like a shrub, because each plant produces many flower stalks. Flower heads are smaller and flower colors are muted in comparison to the other Celosia types. Plants in this specie tend to be well branched, with flowering spike growing up to 4 feet tall.
The Sunday series (Celosia plumosia ‘Sunday’) is a dense herbaceous annual bedding plant with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition. The series is also bred specifically with the cut flower grower in mind. Its attractive full plumes on long stems are ideal for cutting. Perfect fillers for mixed bouquets with excellent vase life.
- Fragrant flowers.
- Heat tolerant.
- Plumes up to 2 – 4 feet tall
Castle Series (Celosia plumosia ‘Castle’) plant has a compact habit and grows to a maximum height of 12 – 14 inches tall. It features richly colored flowers that are great for containers and garden beds. Dark foliage contrasts well with light and feathery blooms, which are produced all season long. The flowers are dense, plume-like and comprised of many small bracted flowers in bright colors. This plant will perform well in mixed container plantings, as well as in the garden.
- Plumes up to 14 inches.
- Heat tolerant and low maintenance.
- Blooms all Summer long.
Celosia ‘Ice Cream’
Ice Cream Series (Celosia plumosia ‘Ice Cream’) is a dwarf variety, combining a compact plant habit with large, tight flower plumes. Featuring brilliantly colored cone-shaped flower heads on well branched plants, it is ideal for packs and pots. Good basal branching and excellent tolerance to heat also make Ice Cream perfectly suited to be use for borders and edging.
- Grow up to 12 inches.
- Early, compact and well-branched.
- Color consists of Banana, Cherry, Mango, Orange, Peach, and Strawberry.
Celosia ‘New Look’
The New Look series (Celosia plumosia ‘New Look’) has a wide, bushy, base-branching habit, dark foliage and large plumes of a glowing deep color. Its incessant blooms create an exotic color spot in gardens. ‘New Look’ thrives in a full sun garden location and the plumes will retain their intense color longer than other celosias, provideing flower beds and borders eye-catching color all season long and require minimal care.
- Grows from 12″ to 18″ tall.
- Plants are heat, humidity and severe weather tolerant.
- 1988 AAS Flower Award Winner
In the Garden
There are few flowers as showy as celosia. Whether gracefully feathered or exotically coral-shaped, celosia provides tremendous drama to the garden. Continuously blooms in any soil or weather, and vibrant colored blooms can be displayed fresh or dried.
- Celosias make beautiful container plantings, either on its own or combined with other plants that like the same sunny growing conditions. For a well-designed container arrangement, choose varieties that grow less than two feet tall, such as ‘Castle’ or the ‘Ice Cream’ series.
- Perfectly suited for mass or group in beds, borders or edging.
- Plumosa varieties are excellent houseplants. The potted plants will show color for a month or more under low light conditions.
- Celosia lasts for a long time as a cut flower, and when dried, is a beautiful accent in a dry flower arrangement.
- Blooms from mid-summer to mid-fall.
- Thrives in hot and humid summers.
- Require little maintenance.
Caring & Growing
In zones 10 to 12, this flower can be grown as a perennial plant in container gardens. In other zones, the celosia flower is usually grown as an annual flower. Celosia species do not tolerate cold.
All types of celosia prefer a sunny location, but light shade is acceptable. Requires full sun to do best.
Celosia is tolerant to most type of soil, including sandy loam or even clay, as long as it is well drained. However, Celosias will thrive and bloom more profusely in soil that contains high levels of organic matter. For best results, try to have organic matter mixed into soil each year to maintain consistency and fertility levels. Leaf mold, peat, well-aged cow manure and compost are suitable soil amendments.
All varieties of Celosia thrive in heat and tolerate drought, once established. It has average water needs. Keep soil evenly moist but not soggy.
Fertilizer may not be necessary. If the plants seem to be growing slowly, apply water-soluble fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio every two weeks or use a slow-release granular fertilizer.