Cockscomb ( Celosia argentea var. cristata )
This plant is known by the scientific name of Celosia argentea var. cristata . Native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia, it belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. Like most genera of this one, they are herbaceous, with a lifecycle of just one year during which they will germinate, grow, flourish and, once the seeds mature, they will wither slowly as the cold of the winter arrive. Its leaves are long, lanceolate, with nerves very well marked, green.
The flowers, which can be red, yellow, pink or orange, appear in spring distributed in erect, dense and feathery inflorescences. They remain on the plant for a long time; in fact, if the temperatures are warm they can last up to two months , which becomes the perfect excuse to color that patio or terrace during the days that the weather ia suitable.
This is a very easy flower to grow, even if you do not have much experience with the plants yet. Let’s see in detail how to get healthy and durable plants:
And we are going to start, of course, by the beginning, by the seeds. If you still do not have an adult, then you can buy an envelope of seeds in any nursery or agricultural store. Once at home, I recommend that you put them in a glass of water for 24 hours so that you can discard those that are not viable, which are those that remain floating just on the surface; thus, you can have better controlled those you sow, which in all likelihood will germinate in a few days.
The next day, it will be time to prepare the seedbed. Anything can serve as such, but it is very advisable to use seedling trays (of which are used to plant seeds of horticultural plants), since this plant has a high germination percentage, and also a rapid growth rate. If we put one or two seeds in each alveolus, when they sprout they can be transplanted successfully to individual pots or to the garden. Otherwise, that is, if we sow many in a pot, our Celosia or cockscomb will remain small because there is not much space where their roots can grow.
So, if you have the seed tray, you just have to fill the alveoli with universal substrate for plants (or if you prefer, mix black peat with pearlite in equal parts), water it well and put a maximum of 2 seeds in each hole. Then, you only have to cover them with a thin layer of substrate (mostly so that the wind can not take them), and water again.
These flowers will germinate in about 10-20 days as long as the temperature is high, above 15ºC, and they are located in a place where the sun’s rays reach them directly. In this way, we will reduce the risk that they end up having problems of growth or development, since they do not live too well in semi-shade. So that you do not miss anything, it is important to keep the substrate moist (but not waterlogged), so we will water every 2-3 days.
When they have removed their first true leaves and have reached a height of about 10cm, you can transplant them or a larger pot or soil. By the way, you should know that flowers will not take long to appear: you’ll only have to wait about three months . Well, it’s true, said that way it seems a long time, but when they finally do, you’ll see how you can contemplate their beautiful flowers for 8 weeks. In addition, you can always plant on different dates (for example, the first batch in early spring, the second in the middle and the third at the end of this season) to have flowers a little longer .
The cockscomb is cultivated above all in a pot, and is that due to its small size (about 50cm maximum) it is very interesting to have it as a centerpiece, on the balcony or on the terrace. But what care does it require?
- Location : will live better if exposed to direct sunlight.
- Irrigation : frequent, every 2-3 days. Increase the frequency during the summer if the temperatures are high (above 30ºC) and if the substrate dries quickly.
- Fertilizer : very advisable. Fertilize with specific fertilizers of plants with ornamental flower to obtain a greater quantity of flowers during the flowering season.
- Substrate : with good drainage. If in the seedbed we could use any substrate, if we are going to have it in a pot we must make sure that the land we use does not compact. Thus, we can use the mixture composed of black peat and pearlite in equal parts, or mix 50% black peat + 30% perlite + 20% vermiculite.
Care on the Garden
But it will also be spectacular in the garden, either together with other Celosia or cockscomb as with other plants that grow more or less up to the same height. The care is a little different from the one required in a pot:
- Location : full sun.
- Irrigation : frequent, every 3-4 days.
- Subscriber : we will pay during the entire time it is in bloom. We can use natural fertilizers as liquid guano, following the recommendations indicated by the container.
- Earth : it is not demanding in terms of soil pH, but it will have problems in those that have a tendency to compact. So, if you have for example a clay soil, it is advisable to make a planting hole of at least 50x50cm, and fill it with plant substrate mixed with pearlite in equal parts.
Diseases and pests of the Cokscomb Celosia
Now that we have seen how to care both in pot and on the ground, we should see the part that we like least to those who grow plants: the diseases and pests that can affect the cockscomb.
Plant diseases can be transmitted by viruses, fungi or bacteria. In the case of our protagonist, it will be a fungus that harms her. Your name? Surely you’ve heard it once: Powdery mildew . This is a parasitic fungus that attacks the leaves, covering them with a cottony, whitish layer in the shape of a star. When not controlled in time, the leaves end up drying and falling.
What causes it? Mainly bad care such as excessive moisture and / or fertilizer, or lack of light. Therefore, the treatment goes through correcting these causes, and applying treatments with natural fungicides (sulfur or copper). However, if the disease is very advanced, chemical fungicides will have to be used.
Being a plant with leaves that are juicy for many insects, unfortunately you will also need preventive treatments against pests. The ones that affect you the most are:
- Mites : they rest on top of the leaves. If your plant has mites, you can see yellow spots, small holes that were not there before, and even cobwebs. As the Celosia or cockscomb is small, you can clean the leaves with soap and water, or if you prefer, use an insecticide containing Chlorpyrifos.
- Molluscs : if you live in a very humid area, the snails are sure to approach your cockscomb. To avoid it, you can repel them by putting plates or glasses with beer. Another way, much less harmful for these animals, is placing copper around your plant, since due to a reaction between the metal and the snail’s slime, it will not want to get closer to it.
Uses of the Cockscomb
As we have seen, this is an ideal plant to have anywhere, provided you have plenty of light. But did you know that it has other uses? In Africa and Asia, where it comes from, its leaves and flowers are used as food. Yes, yes, you can make delicious salads with this plant. In fact, you should know that it is also known as “spinach from Lagos”.
So you know, if you want to have a different dinner, put some cockscomb (Celosia argentea var cristata) leaves to boil, and then toss them together with the lettuce . I did not like the flavor when I did it myself and better do not eat vegetables that are not US certified as edible.
Conclusions About The Cockscomb (Celosia argentea)
The cockscomb, or Celosia argenta var. cristata , is a plant much appreciated for its spectacular flower. In addition to its high ornamental value, it should be noted that it is very easy to grow and care , because you just have to place it in a place where it receives a lot of direct light, if possible all day, a substrate that has good drainage and frequent watering. So, we are facing an ideal plant for those who have just entered the world of gardening and do not have much experience (or none) taking care of plants.
Without a doubt, this is a flower that will give us many great satisfactions. If you do not believe me, grab a cockscombe and tell me in the comments section.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.