Celosia makes your sunny spots beautiful

Celosia makes your sunny spots beautiful

As you drive around Beaumont and Houston, look for the use of the striking celosia plant. It is a favorite of landscape architects because of its bombshell colors and ease of care. They often use it like a carpet in mass plantings across great swaths of median strips and entries into shopping areas. You can take advantage of celosia’s good looks in your own yard.

Celosia is an annual in most of the country, but here in our “neck of the woods,” we can consider it a perennial when we have a mild winter. The folks in Miami and Zones 10-12 can enjoy its beautiful colors all year round. You can choose between the three types of celosia to suit your taste. There is the plume variety, the spike variety or the elongated cone. All of the choices are so striking in your yard because the colors are so vivid. Look for pops of blooming color in bright red, bright yellow, cream, bright orange, rose, hot pink and royal purple. Then you can choose the height of flower that you would like, ranging from 4 inches to over a yardstick in height.

Some gardeners like to grow this stunner from seed, although small plants are available at most nurseries. They take about 90 days to flower after planting from seed. Their one requirement is full sun. They don’t mind a variety of soils, even clay. They are troopers in the hottest of weather and don’t require water except when it doesn’t rain for weeks.

The name celosia is Greek and means “burning.” This name fits the look of many of the celosia blooms — they do look like little flames. You may have heard the celosia called “cock’s comb,” a nickname given because some of their flower tops look like rooster combs. In the language of flowers, celosia means “silliness” and “humor.”

Celosia is thought to come from Africa and India. Herbalists have used celosia for hundreds of years to stop bleeding. They belong to the amaranth family, according to the wonderful Aggie Horticulture website. Not only is celosia outstanding looking, but also you can eat certain varieties. The plants are well known in African food and are called “mfungu.” In Mexico and Southeast Asia, the celosia is cultivated as a nutritious leafy, green vegetable. Its name in Nigeria is “soko yokoto,” which means “make husbands fat and happy.” The leaves, young stems and young blooms are eaten boiled or cooked in sauce or stew.

You may not be interested in making a cash crop of celosia, but if you plant a decorative mass of them in a sunny spot in your yard, you are sure to be the envy of your neighbors.

 

Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached by e-mail at joreger [at] msn [dot] com and on Facebook at “Gardengate with Joette Reger.”

shadow