The Useful Cotton Plant
There are quite a number of reasons to grow cotton in the home garden and landscape. These are very useful plants
This is a very good choice for the craft garden. The fiber can be used for spinning, weaving, and other craft projects. In addition, this makes a great fresh cut flower and an everlasting.
The stems of any type of cotton are suitable for cutting, but the most beautiful of all are the ones with the colored bolls. These are called naturally colored cottons. The Nankeen or Nanking variety is often used in floral design. For cut and dried flowers, the stems should be cut as soon as the bolls are ripe.
At least one type of cotton is grown as an ornamental, and is especially recommended for flower gardens. This is known as the red-leaved cotton. It has lovely deep red stems as well as absolutely delightful red foliage. This is also ideal as a cut flower as well.
The cotton hulls are used for fertilizer and livestock feed. The stalks are made into paper. The root bark has been used for medicinal purposes. Cotton seed meal is used as a natural fertilizer. Cotton is also the source of an oil that is used industrially for soaps and related products. The seeds yield up to 40% oil.
Cotton for the Edible Landscape
Assuming the edible species or varieties are chosen, cotton is also suitable for the edible landscape. The seeds of some species contain a toxic substance known as gossypol. For that reason, be sure you are growing the edible species rather than the poisonous ones before you consume the seed or oil. The edible ones include the short staple American cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) and certain glandless varieties that are grown specifically for their edible seeds. The special glandless varieties contain no gossypol.
Several glandless varieties of cotton are grown specifically for culinary purposes. The seeds are very high in protein and can be prepared in various ways, such as a rice substitute, flour, and nut butter. The seeds are roasted as a snack. This has been prepared as a protein food similar to bean curd.
One special edible glandless cultivar was released by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. This is resistant to diseases and pests, and is grown for the excellent seed, which is used for edible purposes since it contains no gossypol.