The story of Celosia
The generic name “Cock’s Comb” is derived from the Ancient Greek word κήλεος, meaning “burning”, and refers to the flame-like flower heads.
The plant comes in various forms: with flaming torches, narrow spikes or a fairytale comb that looks like a brain. The colours are dazzling: white, red, yellow, pink, purple, orange, green or multicoloured. Celosia has a light spicy scent and brings joy for months with its unusual flowers.
Celosia grows in the tropics and has spread from East Africa, South America and South-east Asia to many other tropical regions. The plant is a member of the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae) which also includes other flamboyant plants such as Amaranthus and Atriplex.
The Celosia range has been subject to intense breeding in recent years, with amazing results in terms of colour, flower type and lifespan. There are three different cultivar groups: the c. Cristata Group (cockscomb), the C. Plumosa Group (plume cockscomb) and the C. Spicata Group (small spiky flowers). The colours can range from bright to pastel shades, and from vintage to bicoloured.
- Celosia prefers a cool and light spot to ensure the longest flowering.
- The plants have somewhat softer leaves, which means that they evaporate more moisture and therefore need a bit more water, particularly during hot summer weather. Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, you may notice slightly drooping leaves which is a signal that they need watering.
- Give the plant some plant food once a fortnight and remove wilted flowers to ensure rich flowering.
- Don’t place Celosia near the fruit bowl. Fruit emits ethylene gas which causes flowers to age more rapidly.
- Celosia can also be placed outdoors on the balcony or patio during the summer months and used as an annual garden plant.
Images courtesy of TheJoyofPlants.co.uk and text courtesy of the Plant Council Holland.