Cockscomb, Chinese Woolflower
Native to the tropics. Richly colored tropical plants, some with flower clusters in bizarre shapes. Although attractive in cut arrangements with other flowers, celosias are most effective by themselves in gardens. Cut blooms can be dried for winter bouquets. Sow seed in place in late spring or early summer, or set out started plants.
There are two kinds of cockscombs, both derived from a silvery white–flowered species, Celosia argentea, which has narrow leaves 2 in. long or more. One group, the plume cockscombs (often sold as C. ‘Plumosa’), has plumy flower clusters. Some of these, like Chinese woolflower (sometimes sold as C. ‘Childsii’), have plumy flower clusters that look like tangled masses of yarn. Flowers come in brilliant shades of pink, orange red, gold, crimson. You can get forms that grow 2 1/2–3 ft. high and 1 1/2 ft. wide. Dwarf, more compact varieties grow about 1 ft. high and half as wide; they bear heavily branched plumes.
The other group is the crested cockscombs (often sold as C. ‘Cristata’). These have velvety, fan-shaped flower clusters, often much contorted and fluted. Flower colors include yellow, orange, crimson, purple, and red. Tall kinds grow to 3 ft. tall and 1 1/2 ft. wide; dwarf varieties grow to 10 in. high and 6 in. wide. Good in containers.
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