Growing cockscomb in B.C.

Credit: iStockphoto

The nicest plantings that I’ve seen of cockscomb (Celosia cristata Crested Group) was at Butchart Gardens years ago. It was doing well (what plant there doesn’t do well!?). It seems to have fallen out of favour for home gardeners for a few reasons.

Cockscomb likes a great deal of heat to do well, so it does better in the interior than on the coast. Also, the fluffy cultivars of celosia (Plumose Group) do somewhat better as their flowers dry out faster after a rain. If you have a south-facing balcony under an overhang, the plants will thrive in containers for sure!

The other issue is that formal bedding has gone out of style somewhat. In a historic garden, such as Butchart, it’s perfect. But most home gardeners have moved toward more perennials and annuals that look good with them, like cosmos. That’s another reason that you don’t see cockscomb planted as much.

Cockscomb is a very interesting plant — plant it if you like it! Give it full hot sun to do its best.

From my 1989 book entitled Bedding Plants: “Celosia can easily be grown from seed. This method usually produces the most flowers as well. Sow in April and cover seeds very lightly to prevent them from drying out. Germination at 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) soil temperature takes about 14 days. Continue growing plants at the same temperature after transplanting seedlings into little pots. Harden off in late May and plant outdoors in early June. Space 20-30 cm (8-12 inches) apart. They don’t grow much in width, so plant dwarf cultivars even closer together, especially in poor soils.)