Celosia argentea [se-LO-see-uh, ar-JEN-tee-uh] is a flowering, warm weather plant doing best in areas with a Mediterranean climate.
The precise origins of this interesting plant are unknown, but it is speculated they had their start on dry slopes found in India and Africa.
It is also possible they hail from the rocky regions of both North America and South America.
Although these plants are usually grown as annuals, they can do well as perennials in warm climates.
Even when grown as an annual in cooler climates, this plant will reseed itself and return year after year.
There are three different types of Celosia, and all are members of the Amaranth plant family.
The genus name, Celosia, comes from the Greek word meaning “burning.”
This refers to the appearance of the Plumosa varieties, which are usually to be found in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Their bloom shape is flame-like.
You may also hear these types of plants referred to as Cockscomb (rooster’s comb), which refers to the shape of the blooms of the Childsii and Cristata varieties.
Celosia Argentea Care
Size & Growth
There are many different varieties of Celosia, and they range in size from as small as 4″ inches to as tall as 3′ feet high.
The leaves of the Celosia are typically light green.
The mid-ribs of the leaves and the plant stems tend to match the color of the bloom.
Newer cultivars are available with burgundy foliage.
Flowering & Fragrance
It is easy to tell the three types of Celosia plants apart by the shape of their blooms.
- Plumosa has flowers growing in a sort of arrowhead shape.
- Spicata have flowers resembling a bottle brush.
- Childsii and Cristata have rounded flowers.
All types bloom from early spring until late summer.
Choose one type or mix-and-match them to create an easy-care garden filled with fascinating shapes and vivid colors.
All of the types of blooms, whether plumy, knobby or brushy come in dazzling shades of:
There are also some interesting bi-colored varieties.
Create a fascinating, highly textured garden extremely attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators by combining the many choices of Celosia.
With plants ranging in height, bloom, and color, you’ll have a garden of tremendous variety and very easy care.
Light & Temperature
Celosia is easy to grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 11 as long as you provide ample sunlight.
For the best growth and the most and brightest blooms, full sun is best.
If kept as a houseplant, place your Cockscomb plant in a bright, sunny south-facing window.
It will need at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive indoors.
Remember, these plants are tropical and prefer a Mediterranean climate.
Warmth and humidity are necessary.
In USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11, Cockscomb will grow and bloom year-round as perennials.
In all other zones, the plants will reseed themselves and grow as annuals.
Watering & Feeding
Treat mature plants like wildflowers, watering deeply, occasionally.
Overall, Celosia is heat and drought resistant.
In extremely dry weather, you may need to mist plants occasionally to provide enough humidity.
Take care when misting the plant to avoid wetting the flowers.
Just dampen the leaves.
It’s best to mist plants in the morning, so they’ll have plenty of time to dry out before evening.
Being wet overnight can cause fungal disease.
When grown indoors, it’s a good idea to keep a humidifier running in the same room with them.
Alternately, place containers on a pebble tray filled with water.
Celosia is a fairly hungry plant appreciating a liquid nitrogen fertilizer applied monthly.
Soil & Transplanting
Although these plants can grow in nutrient-poor soil, they thrive and do their best in well-draining soil rich in organic compost.
Neutral pH levels (6 through 6.5) are ideal.
When planting Celosia, be sure to work plenty of organic matter, such as compost, well-aged cow manure, peat, or leaf mold into the soil.
If pH levels are too high, add a bit of sulfur.
If pH levels are too low, add a bit of lime.
Once planted, be sure to add a thick layer of mulch to help keep the soil evenly moist and to prevent weed growth.
Plant seedlings late in the springtime after all danger of frost has passed.
Be sure to water the plants in well to settle the soil around the roots.
Add more soil as needed.
Keep the soil consistently moist until plants are well established.
Grooming & Maintenance
Regular deadheading encourages plants to produce more flowers.
Toward the end of the season, you may wish to stop deadheading, so your plants can go to seed and reseed themselves for the coming spring.
It’s also a good idea to pinch back stems to encourage a bushy growth habit.
How To Propagate Silver Cock’s Comb
For growing outdoors, it’s a good idea to start with seedlings bought at the nursery.
This is the best way to get off to a good start.
Once your plants are established, they will reseed themselves year after year.
In mild climates, sow Celosia seeds directly into the soil after all danger of frost has passed.
If this is impossible, start Celosia seeds indoors about a month before your last predicted frost.
- Simply spread the seeds evenly over a layer of good quality potting mix.
- Cover them lightly with about a quarter-inch of potting soil.
- Mist the soil frequently to keep it slightly moist.
- Place a layer of plastic wrap over the soil loosely to help hold in the moisture.
- Keep the temperature between 80° and 85° degrees Fahrenheit (27° – 29° C) during the day.
- Don’t allow the temperature to drop below 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) overnight.
- Seed should germinate within a couple of weeks.
When the last frost has passed, and your plants are at least 4″ inches high, transition them to the outdoors.
Transplant the seedlings carefully, so as not to disturb the roots.
It’s also possible to grow Celosia from cuttings.
Simply take cuttings from healthy plants and put them directly into good potting soil.
They should become well established and begin growing as independent plants within a month.
Silver Cock’s Comb Pests or Diseases
Crowding, overwatering, overhead watering, and excessive humidity can cause Celosia to develop fungal diseases.
Good care and the right kind of soil will go far toward preventing this.
If your plants do develop a fungal infection, cut off affected blooms and foliage and apply a commercial fungicide.
Celosia kept as houseplants are especially susceptible to infestation by aphids and spider mites.
These pests can usually be washed away with a strong stream of water.
Outdoor Celosia is quite attractive to slugs and snails.
If you notice their presence, applying a line of slug repellent around your Celosia bed will keep them out.
Is Celosia Toxic Or Poisonous?
Far from being toxic, Celosia flowers are edible.
They are quite tasty when added to salads, stir-fries, stews, soups, and more.
Is The Celosia Plant Invasive?
Even though Celosia is easy to grow and will reseed itself, it is not considered invasive in any area of the United States.
Even so, when keeping it in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, it’s a good idea to take steps to keep it contained within your garden setting.
Suggested Celosia Argentea Uses
Celosia makes a nice bedding plant or border plant.
It does well lining a path or planted in the strip of land along the sidewalk to provide curb appeal.
This deer-resistant plant is an excellent addition to your bee, butterfly, and general pollinator garden.
Cockscomb performs well as a container plant on the porch or patio.
It is kept as a houseplant year-round in cold climates.
Flowers are preserved by drying and make a nice addition to dried flower arrangements.