Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Celosias are a great choice for the cutting garden. These can be used as both fresh and dried flowers.
In the Victorian language of flowers, the celosias signify warmth, humor, and fun.
If you plan on growing your own celosia plants from seed, you can start them early indoors about six weeks before the expected last frost. I find it easier to just buy transplants from the local garden center. They start blooming about 90 days from the time the seeds are sown.
Space the plants about 1˝ feet apart in the row. If they are crowded together, the flowers will not be as full and lush.
Celosias come in a wide range of colors. There are sure to be ones to suit
whatever floral arrangements you are planning. These are often in sunny shades of yellow and orange as well as red, rose, and even magenta as well as pink, white, and cream.
Some celosias are very short, and are intended for flower gardens. These will not be as suitable for cut and dried flowers. The taller varieties will be best for cutting gardens. Before you buy plants or seeds, read the description.
There are several types of celosias available. These are named after the shapes of the flowers. The plumosa and spiked ones are just perfect for floral design. The latter is also called wheat celosia. The taller growing crested celosias are also useful for floral arrangements. These have intricately folded or wrinkled flowers that are reminiscent of a rooster’s comb.
If you are planning to dry celosia as an everlasting no particular care is needed. Gather them into bunches of six or eight stems, tie them together. Hang these in a cool, dry, shady or dark place.
Of the different varieties of celosia, I recommend the following. The 2006 Territorial Seed catalog features several outstanding ones. Flamingo Feather (Celosia spicata) reaches about 2˝ feet in height. The stately flower stalks are in the shape of a spire or spike. The blooms have a fluffy, soft appearance. As a cut flower, these have a long vase life. These blooms open as a pastel pink, fading to white.
Territorial Seed also offers Celosia New Look, an All-America Selections winner. This is noted for its fiery red flower spikes. Plume-like, these feathery blossoms are beautifully presented against the bronze foliage. These plants are nearly 1˝ feet in height.
For 2006, Celosia Ice Cream Formula Mix is a new variety of the plumosa celosia. Very tolerant of heat, this begins blooming very early. The plants are over a foot in height. The blooms are particularly long lasting.
One of the favorites for cut flowers is the Bombay Mix, a variety of the crested cockscomb. These stems are 1˝ feet in height. This mix features a number of individual colors, including yellow gold, several shades of red, and purple.