How to care for celosia?


Popular annuals for bright bedding schemes and borders. Celosia argentea (shown right) is easily recognisable, with its vivid coloured plumes protruding above bright green or reddish leaves. The flowers are prized for their long-lasting stable colouring.

Family: Amaranthaceae
Botanical Name: Celosia
Common Names: cockscomb, Prince of Wales’ feathers, woolflowers.
Foliage: Deciduous, simple or lobed, alternate leaves, in hues of green or purple/red.
Flowers: Plume-like sprays of tiny, brightly coloured flowers, in shades of yellow, orange and red. Plumed flowers are commonly called Prince of Wales’ feathers, whereas the crested forms are called cockscomb.
Flowering Period: Mid-summer to early autumn.
Soil: Rich, well-drained soil. Chalk, sand or loam. Any pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun. Grow in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered possition.
Habit: Bushy.
Type: Half-hardy annuals and perennials.
Origin: Africa, South America and West Indies
Hardiness: H2 – Half-hardy (protect from frost).

Planting and Growing Celosia

Annuals can be planted outside once frosts have passed. Grow on, in a moist but well-drained fertile soil, in full sun and in a sheltered position. Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser every few weeks.

An excellent choice for bedding schemes or in mid border displays, pots or containers. Suitable for growing in town and city gardens, courtyard gardens, cottage, formal and informal gardens.

The blooms of C. argentea make very good and long lasting cut flowers.

Taking Care of Celosia


Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to infestation by red spider mite, whitefly and aphids, especially when grown under glass. Can be affected by root rot, fungal and leaf spot diseases.

Propagating Celosia

Sow seeds in trays in late winter at 18°C (64°F). Grow on undercover in a loam-based potting compost (such as John Innes No 1), in a well ventilated area in full light. Plant out once all danger of frost has passed.

Popular Varieties of Celosia Grown in the UK

Most garden varieties are hybrids of C. argentea var. cristata or plumosa.

‘Apricot Brandy’, fiery orange plumed flowers. Height 20in (50cm).

‘Dwarf Fairy Fountains’, has plumed flowers in pastel shades. Height 12-15in (30-38cm).

‘Flamingo Feather’, has bicoloured rose and deep pink flower spikes. Height to 12in (60cm). Good for drying.

‘Jewel Box Mixed’, crested blooms in mixed colours. Height 9in (23cm)

‘Kimono Mixed’, with cream, yellow, orange or scarlet plumes. Height 4in (10cm). Ideal for containers

I’m always looking for plants that can provide interesting color in both the garden and home, particularly during the fall. One of my favorites in recent years is Dragon’s Breath Celosia.

It’s akin to cockscomb, but what’s so unique about this particular variety of celosia is that it features both fiery red plumes as well as beautiful red foliage.

These plants, which can be started from seed, grow to be about 20-24” and add plenty of drama to the autumn landscape. I like to use them in borders, but they also work great as a container plant. Planted by itself in a container, you get that huge pop of color, but it also works well paired with other sun-loving plants.

Not only does Dragon’s Breath brighten up the garden, it also makes an unusual and interesting cut flower. I like to pair these deep-red, feathery blooms with marigolds and ornamental grasses for the perfect fall arrangement.

Below are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way since I’ve incorporated this stunning plant into my fall garden.

  • Dragon’s Breath can take the heat and is incredibly low-maintenance, which is perfect for my zone 8 garden. It likes full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sun per day.
  • Keep young plants well-watered. However, once established, Dragon’s Breath is incredibly drought-tolerant. Simply ensure that you provide plenty of water during hot, dry periods in order to get as many blooms as possible.
  • You may feel reluctant about cutting the blooms off of this beautiful plant, but it will continue producing blooms and the plant will grow larger throughout the fall season.

Learn more about Dragon’s Breath Celosia by watching the video below!

Big Grower, Culture, Grower News, Plant Health, Production, Variety Info September 2015

Crop Culture Report: Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’
By Ken Harr

It’s not that often a new variety comes along that captivates the industry with not only its stunning appearance, but also possesses the attributes of easy-to-grow, long-lasting shelf-life, great garden performance throughout the season, and the ability to sell-through at retail quickly. Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is one of those plants. With its excellent, bright red foliage and long-lasting plumes of flowers, as well as its ability to be sold in the prime bedding plant weeks and utilized as a season-extender, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is poised to become one of the hottest new varieties on the market.

There are three primary cultural factors to consider when producing ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia: photoperiodic response, fertilizer formulations and environmental factors.

Photoperiodic Response

Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is an obligate short-day plant, meaning in order to flower, the plants require less than 11 hours of day-length. Celosia generally is able to initiate flowering at day 14-21 after sowing. In order for celosia plugs to bulk up enough prior to flower initiation, it may be necessary to extend the day-length greater than 12 hours. This will depend on the time of year and geographical location. Once plants have started flower development, a period of 14-21 days under short days should be sufficient to maintain continued development. Therefore, it is necessary to always be aware of the natural day-length during the growing period, and either extend the day-length to bulk up plants, or apply short-day conditions if necessary for flower initiation.

Fertilizer Formulations

One of ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia’s best attributes is its brilliant, deep red foliage. This is the result of the plant’s ability to grow and thrive without normal amounts of ammonium and phosphorous usually needed for adequate plant growth. After transplanting and the young plants have rooted out to the sides of the containers, decrease the amounts of ammonium and phosphorous by either feeding with fertilizer formulations with lower amounts of these two nutrients, or by decreasing the number of fertilizer applications throughout its growing period. A 15-3-20 or 14-2-14 formulation with a targeted soil EC of .75-1.0 are two good recommendations for growing on ‘Dragon’s Breath’. Remember to keep adequate potassium, magnesium and boron levels in the fertilizer applications to prevent any twisting, tip abortion, or discoloration of the crop’s foliage.

Environmental Factors

Because of its short-day requirement to initiate flowering, celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ can be grown for several different applications. Under normal spring bedding plant production plans, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ can be grown in 1-quart, 2.5-quart, 1-gallon containers and larger, as well as in mixed combinations where the striking red foliage will pose as an excellent backdrop of its other component plants. The plugs should be started under long-day conditions to be bulked-up, then placed under the natural short days of late winter for flower development.

For summer production specifically for landscape purposes, ‘Drag- on’s Breath’ can be grown under natural long days where they will produce larger plants with deep red foliage. Again, the plants will serve as an excellent background for brightly colored blooms such as Sakata’s new marigold ‘Proud Mari’, or Double Profusion zinnias. ‘Dragon’s Breath’ plants will then begin to produce blooms in the late summer and fall months, extending the bright land- scape color well into September, October and November depending on the local climate.
In the deep southern states or far western states where the danger of frost is minimal, ‘Dragon’s Breath’ can be grown for containers or in the landscape under natural short days, producing shorter plants but with larger and luxurious deep red to maroon plumes of color.

In all of these scenarios, it is necessary to schedule the crops accordingly to produce what is required for the growers’ customers. Will it be plants in bloom; vegetative plants for the landscape; or something in- between? The versatility of celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ can supply all of these needs.

Plant Growth Regulators

Because celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is an obligate short-day plant, the finished height can be regulated by the amount of day-length it receives at specific points in its crop time. If plants are grown under short days early in plug production, flower initiation will occur and the finished crop will be short in height. Conversely, if the plants are grown under long days and kept in a vegetative stage, the finished height will be taller. If PGR applications are required, B-Nine (daminozide) at 1,000-2500 ppm can be sprayed in the plug stages, and during transplant-finish at 2,500-5,000 ppm. Bonzi sprays (paclobutrazol) at 5-10 ppm may also be utilized, however it is not recommended to drench PGRs. Moisture management may also be used to keep plants in check. Water up to level 3 (media appears dark brown) and dry down to level 2 (media is tan). Some foliage flagging is ok, but do not allow to wilt as celosia can be susceptible to high salt levels resulting in edge burn.

Industry Recognition

Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ has received an enormous amount of attention since its introduction at California Spring Trials in April 2015. But even before that, those industry growers and buyers that viewed ‘Dragon’s Breath’ in trial gardens across the country could not help but stop and rave over the plant’s deep red foliage and large flower plumes that seemed to never stop blooming. It’s no wonder then that ‘Dragon’s Breath’ won the Industry Choice Award at Cultivate ’15 this summer. Whether ‘Dragon’s Breath’ is placed in containers, the landscape or on the consumer’s deck, that vibrant maroon, deep-red foliage, along with its out- standing flowers, will surprise, astound and delight everyone.

Ken Harr

Ken Harr is product technical manager with Sakata Seed America. He can be reached at

Celosia is an annual flower for sun that’s been around for generations — and it’s still popular. One of the reasons this plant is loved is that it’s so easy to grow. You can enjoy success with celosia in just about any sunny spot — including container gardens, garden beds and borders, and landscaping.
There are a bunch of different varieties of celosia available, too, offering you plenty of options for designing your garden with it. Crested types have interesting, brain-like flowers that give rise to one of the plant’s other monikers: cocks comb (because the flowers look like the comb on the head of a chicken). Plume types have feathery flowers that look like flames or puffs of cotton candy and are particularly fun in container gardens for adding vertical appeal and texture. And spicata types have interesting, wheat-like flowers. Most celosia varieties come in shades of red, pink, orange, and yellow.
While this sun-loving annual flower mixes beautifully with other flowers, they also look stunning on their own when planted en mass. This easy-care flower attracts butterflies and lasts a long time when cut for bouquets, too!
Celosia Questions?
If you have questions about growing celosia, just drop us an email. Our annual flower experts are more than happy to lend a hand!

Celosia Plant Death: Reasons For Celosia Plants Dying

Thomas Jefferson once referred to celosia as “a flower like the prince’s feather.” Also known as cockscomb, the unique, brightly colored plumes of celosia fit in all types of gardens. A perennial in zones 8-10, celosia is often grown as an annual in cooler climates. Not only does it produce a variety of brightly colored blooms, many types of celosia also have red stems and/or foliage.

Because of their preference for full sun and drier soils, celosia is excellent for use in containers and xeriscaping. When grown in the right conditions, celosia can be a long-blooming, low maintenance plant, but it can also be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. If you’ve found yourself wondering: “why is my celosia dying,” continue reading to learn about common celosia problems.

Celosia Plant Death from Pests

One of the most common causes for celosia plant death is an infestation of mites. Mites are related to spiders, they have eight legs and may be detected by the fine, tiny web-like strings they produce.

However, mites are so small that they often go unnoticed until they have created much damage to the plant.

These tiny creatures hides on the underside of leaves and in cracks and crevices of plants. They quickly reproduce so that several generations of mites may be sucking your plant foliage dry. If plant foliage begins to turn brown-bronze and become dry and brittle, closely inspect the plant for mites. To treat mites, spray all surfaces of the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Ladybugs are also beneficial allies in controlling mites.

Celosia Plants Dying from Fungus

Two fungal diseases that celosia plants are susceptible to are leaf spot and stem rot.

Leaf spot – Symptoms of leaf spot are brownish tan spots on the foliage. Eventually, the tissue spots may become holes. If fungal leaf spot is left to spread too much, it can kill the plant by destroying enough plant tissue that the plant cannot properly photosynthesize.

Leaf spot can be treated with copper fungicide if caught early enough. Increasing air circulation, sunlight and watering the plant at the soil level can help prevent leaf spot. When spraying any products on plants, you should do it on a cool, cloudy day.

Stem rot – This is a soil borne fungal disease. It can lay dormant in soil for a long time until the right conditions cause it to infect any nearby plant. Cool, wet weather followed by extremely hot and humid conditions often trigger the growth and spread of stem rot. Stem rot symptoms appear as gray-black, water soaked spots on the stems and lower foliage of plants. Eventually, the disease will rot right through the plant stem, causing the plant to die.

While there is no cure for stem rot, it can be prevented by creating better air circulation, increasing sunlight and watering celosia plants gently at soil level to prevent major splash back. Overwatering can also lead to stem and crown rot. Always water plants deeply but infrequently.

Gardening FAQ

Celosia can bloom from June until frost. During that time, deadheading your celosia will encourage new blooms. Remove the flowers as they start to turn brown and loose color. If you wait too long after this point, seed development starts and the plant puts its energy into that rather than new blooms. Deadheading is not necessary in fall, as the plant is not likely to bloom again.

Celosia are tender perennials (in Zones 10-12) grown as annuals. Their inflorescences are brightly colored and showy–red, purple, pink, orange and yellow. The name celosia is derived from the Greek kelos, “burnt,” referring to the flowers’ fiery colors and often flamelike shape.

Although 50-60 varieties exist, commonly planted varieties belong to two species, Celosia argentea and Celosia spicata.Two forms of C. argentea are popular: the Cristata varieties (cockscomb) bear rounded,crested flower heads resembling enormous rooster combs or even cauliflower. Plumosa varieties feature erect, featherlike plumes. C. spicata, spiked cockscomb, is also known as wheat celosia for its narrow, spiky flower heads, reminiscent of heads of wheat. These plants produce numerous flowers, with an almost shrubby look.

Celosias make good cut or dried flowers. To dry, remove all the leaves from the stems and wrap a rubber band around 6-8 stems and hang them upside down from a coat hanger in a dark, cool, dry, airy space for several weeks or until fully dried. They will last in dried arrangements for at least six months without losing any of their vibrancy.

For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
– Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service


There are few flowers as showy as celosia. Whether you plant the plumed type, with its striking upright spires, or the crested type with its fascinating twisted form, you’ll love using celosia in bouquets. The flowers are beautiful fresh, but they can be dried easily if hung upside down. And they bloom in the striking colors of a glowing sunset.

genus name
  • Celosia
  • Sun
plant type
  • Annual
  • 6 to 12 inches,
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 6-18 inches wide
flower color
  • Purple,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Pink,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green,
  • Purple/Burgundy,
  • Chartreuse/Gold
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
  • 10,
  • 11
  • Leaf Cuttings,
  • Seed

Types of Celosia Flowers

A cut bouquet favorite, Celosia or Cockscomb flowers come in several different and unique styles:

  • The spicata, or candle type blooms, cover the plant in upright narrow blooms reminiscent of wheat grass seed heads.
  • Plumosa type blooms, from the most common group of celosias, have broader-based flowers than spicata types. These blooms look like little flames perched atop the plants.
  • The cristata variety, with its coral-like appearance, is the most unique looking of the celosia group. Because it grows so much larger than its counterparts, this celosia variety tends to flower less (sometimes producing only one bloom at a time).

The blooms of celosia are rather stiff and waxy, which makes them a great option for bouquets. The plant’s colorful flowers are produced in abundance all over the plant, and they last for a very long time. While aging naturally on the plant, celosia flowers fade to a whisper of their previous hue, taking on a straw-like appearance.

Celosia leaves are generally light green with a colored mid-rib that matches the bloom on the plant. There are some newer varieties with very attractive burgundy foliage, which deepens in color in full summer sun. The stems of the plant also reflect the color of the bloom, creating a striking effect.

How to Care for Celosia Plants

Celosia does need a little bit of maintenance throughout the growing season. Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Since the blooms are so rugged, the plant will hold onto them until they have dried on the plant. This means they will need to be manually removed to keep the plants looking nice and fresh. Celosia also likes rich, well-drained soil with moderate water. Overall, these are resilient plants with very few problems.

A few pests to watch out for are aphids and spider mites (the latter can be a problem in hot, dry weather).

Celosia is easily grown from seed or cuttings, and growing a variety of celosia adds a splash of color to your containers or garden beds. When selecting your varieties, make sure you choose plants that are size appropriate. Some varieties are primarily grown for cut flowers and can get quite large and require staking. Many of the new varieties are only available from cuttings so you won’t find seeds to grow them.

A word of caution: Don’t be too rough with these plants, as the stems are succulent and prone to breakage.

More Varieties of Celosia

‘Amigo Red’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘Amigo Red’ offers crested red flowers on a compact plant with excellent heat and drought tolerance. It grows 6 inches tall and wide.

‘Flamingo Feather’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘Flamingo Feather’ grows 4 feet tall and bears plume-type pink flowers that dry well.

‘Armor Yellow’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘Armor Yellow’ grows 16 inches tall and bears crested yellow blooms.

‘Fresh Look Yellow’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘Fresh Look Yellow’ grows about 20 inches tall and bears abundant plume-type yellow flowers.

‘Intenz’ Celosia Argentea

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Bright fuchsia candles cover celosia argentea “Intenz” all season and the plants usually reach 12–16 inches tall.

‘Fresh Look Red’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘Fresh Look Red’ is an award-winning selection with plumes of rosy-red flowers. It grows 18 inches tall.

‘New Look’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘New Look’ bears red plumes and beautiful purple-tinged foliage. It grows 14 inches tall.

‘New Look Red’ Celosia

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Celosia ‘New Look Red’ grows 20 inches tall and bears red flowers over burgundy-red foliage.

Plant Celosia With:

As mentioned above, Celosia is an incredible plant to use in arrangements, from fresh bouquets to dried seasonal wreaths. See some of the plants we believe are perfectly paired with Celosia.

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Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon, and once you get a good look at it, you’ll know why. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach 1-2 feet high studded with fascinating snapdragon-like flowers with beautiful colorations in purple, white, or pink. It’s the perfect plant for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. This tough plant blooms all summer long. While all varieties are beautiful, keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in Zones 9-10. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can keep it flowering all winter.

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There’s nothing subtle about an African marigold, and thank goodness for that! It’s a big, flamboyant, colorful punch of color for the sunny bed, border, or large container. Most are yellow, orange, or cream. Plants grow up to 3 feet tall and produce huge 3-inch puffball blooms while dwarf varieties get just 1 foot tall. The mounded dark green foliage is always clean, fresh, and tidy. Grow them in a warm, sunny spot with moist, well-drained soil all summer long.

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Nasturtiums are so versatile. They grow easily from seed sown directly in your garden’s poorest soil and bloom all season until frost. They are never greedy about food or fertilizer. Nasturtiums are available in either spreading or climbing types. Plant spreading types in large containers to spill over the sides. Plant them alongside wide paths to soften the sides for a romantic look. Use nasturtium to brighten a rock garden or between paving stones. Plant them at the edges of beds and borders to fill in between other plants and add soft, flowing color. Train climbing types up trellises or alongside fences. The leaves and flowers are edible; use them as a showy plate garnish or to jazz up salads.

Flower Combinations

Garden Plans For Celosia

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How to Care for Celosia

Celosia, also known as cock’s comb, is a genus of tender annuals made up of about 60 different species. They are edible, but are more commonly grown for ornamental purposes. They can produce one of three different flower structures depending on the species. Celosia flowers can be red, gold, yellow, orange, purple or multi-colored. Celosia is native to South America, Africa and Asia, and can be easily cultivated in most temperate climates.

Start celosia seeds in a planter indoors about four to six weeks before the final frost of the year. Keep the soil consistently moist, and the temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for germination to begin.

Plant celosia in the spring after the final frost. Choose a planting location that receives full sunlight each day and has well-drained soil that does not accumulate standing water. Celosia can tolerate partial shade, but the flowers will not be as vivid.

Water celosia three to four times a week, just enough to keep the soil from drying out completely. Reduce watering during fall to twice per week, and again in winter to once per week. Never allow the soil to become soggy, or the plant will rot and die.

Feed celosia plants using a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once per month during spring and summer months. Maintain a 2-inch layer of pine bark nuggets over the soil surrounding celosia to conserve moisture and provide extra nutrients to the soil.

Celosia Plant Care

Colorful plumed cockscomb flower or Celosia argentea blossom

Celosia Plant Care. Also called (cockscomb) they are considered a tender annual. Freezing temperatures will kill them. Great long lasting beautiful feather-like flower for your garden. Most come in deep reds, dark orange, bright pinks, and lavender colors. They do no like below freezing temperatures so plant them after the last frost in your area.

Depending on the variety they will grow to about 4 to 8 inches in height and will spread about 5 inches. Make sure to keep your soil moist during the hottest part of the season, but not always wet. They are susceptible to spider mites and aphids so keep your eye own on those insects.

Most will grow from 6 inches to about 2 ft. depending on the type of Celosia you purchase. Other names they go by are fire plant and the flamingo plant.

Where to plant them?

An easy to grow plant try planting them in decorative pots this will work as they will fill out and give colorful flowers throughout spring and most of the early summer. I’ve seen them bloom into mid-fall. Plant them in masses for a great formal effect (see image below). To extend the blooming season be sure to deadhead expired blooms. Plant them in full sun or partial shade as they will do well in both places. Butterflies love Celosia plants so place them in rows for an awesome display of color during the spring seasons. See the photo below.

Red plumed cockscomb flower or Celosia argentea blossomCelosia plants in decorative containers

Fertilizing Celosia

Cock’s Comb Celosia in a terra cotta pot.

Fertilize your Celosia plants about once per month. A well balanced 20-20-20 mixture will work best and never let them dry out.

Use a layer of mulch on top of your Celosia plants to help with water retention during the hot summer seasons.

Celosia plants are considered perennials in USDA zones 11-12. However, they are classified as annuals in zone 0-10.

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