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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Celosia Flowers

Cockscomb Celosia

Celosia are annual flowers that are getting lots of attention. They come in two different types: Cockscomb and Pampas Plume. The cockscomb looks likes a colorful rooster's comb and, in Victorian times, were exhibited at county fairs with the biggest comb winning. The more popular Pampas Plume varieties have large, feathery plumes that bloom all summer.

There are some new All American Selections winning varieties available and an unusual old one, too. 'Kelos Candle Pink' features a 2-foot tall plant with airy pink flowers that are excellent for drying. 'Asian Garden' grows even taller, to 3 feet tall, with big, bushy pink flowers that can take a light frost. An old heirloom I'm trying in our garden is the Chinese Wool Plant. It dates back to the early 1900s and has red flowers that literally look and feel like bundles of wool. It grows 2- to 3-feet tall with “balls” of flowers on top. The other cool thing about celosia is it's related to amaranth and the leaves are edible.

Look for these varieties in garden centers as transplants, or buy seeds and start them indoors. Start seeds indoors under grow lights 6- to 8-weeks before your last frost date. They like heat and warm soil so don't rush them into the garden. Sow the small seeds on the soil surface. They need light to germinate. Only lightly cover them with fine potting soil or vermiculite. Keep the soil evenly moist.

Celosia look great in containers in the flower and vegetable garden. Use the flowers for cutting and drying and give the leaves a taste in salads and sautees.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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