Cockscomb Flower – Botanical Description and Plant Care
Cockscomb, also known as woolflowers, is a member of the amaranth family. The name means "burning, flaming," referring to the shape and color of the inflorescences, which resemble tongues of flame and are colored in different colors. In wild conditions, this plant is found in warm climates such as Asia, Africa, and North and South America.
Features of Cockscomb
Perennials and annuals represent the herbaceous cockscomb and shrubs are also found. This flower is cultivated annually in the middle latitudes because it cannot survive frosty winters. The shoots are branched and upright. The alternately arranged leaf blades are ovate-lanceolate, ovate-ovate, or linear-lanceolate. The pectinate, paniculate or spike-shaped inflorescences consist of small flowers which may vary in color, e.g., pink, orange, golden, yellow, red, or scarlet. The fruit is a multi-seeded capsule.
Growing Cockscomb From Seed
Almost the only cockscomb propagation method is generative (seed) propagation. Immediately before sowing, the seeds should be made, soak them for 3-4 hours in a solution of Zircon and Epin (1 drop of each drug in 1 tbsp. water). This will help to soak the seed coat, which is too dense. Fill the pot with a substrate consisting of vermiculite and humus (1:1). Sow sparingly and only spread the seeds on the surface of the potting soil and press them into it. It is optional to cover them with soil. The seeds should be sprinkled lightly with water from a sprayer. The pot should be covered with glass or film and placed on a well-lit, warm window sill (23 to 25 degrees), protecting it from direct sunlight. The seeds should be systematically aired and watered, and the condensation should be removed from the cover in good time. If you don't want to handle the pivoting, the seeds should be sown in individual cups. The first seedlings will be visible after about 8 days.
The seedlings need four to six hours of light. The reason is that the daylight hours still need to be longer at this time of year. If you sow the seeds in a single container, the seedlings need to be pickled twice. The first one should be done after the seedlings have grown 2 or 3 true leaves. Use the same potting soil as you used at the time of planting. The containers should be shallow, only 4-5 cm. The distance between the seedlings should be 50 mm. Once the seedlings have taken root, fertilize them at the same time as watering them, using a weak solution of blooming plant fertilizer. Once the seedlings have become stronger, a second picking should be done in a deeper container, or you can use a trowel to gently remove each seedling with a root ball and plant them in separate pots (peat humus pots are recommended).
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Planting Cockscomb in the Open Air
Transplant the seedlings into the loose soil after the air and soil have warmed up well, and the frost is not yet over. Planting should generally be done from the middle of May until the last days of May. The site should be well-lit and drained and protected from gusts of wind. If the soil in the selected area is acidic, lime should be treated before planting. Remember not to fertilize with fresh organic matter, as the cockscomb reacts negatively.
Planting this flower should be done the same way as with most other garden flowers. When planting it should be considered that young shrubs have a very delicate root system that can be easily traumatized. For this reason, it is advisable to use the transplanting method when transplanting plants into open soil. The flowers should be transplanted directly into these if they are grown in individual peat and mulch pots. If the cockscomb species or variety is tall, a distance of 25 to 30 centimeters should be maintained between the bushes and 15 to 20 centimeters if it is low-growing.
This flower should be planted in much the same way as most other garden flowers. When replanting, young shrubs will have a delicate root system that can easily traumatize. For this reason, it is advisable to use the transplanting method when transplanting plants into open soil. The flowers should be transplanted directly into these if they are grown in individual peat and mulch pots. If the species or variety of cockscomb is high-growing, the distance between the bushes should be 25 to 30 centimeters, and if low-growing, 15 to 20 centimeters.
Growing cockscomb in your garden is simple, but a few nuances must be considered. Seedlings planted in the open ground and hit by even a weak frost can die. The plant also reacts negatively to the over-wetting of the soil. These nuances must be taken into account when caring for cockscomb. Watering should only be done when there is prolonged drought and heat, and the shrub should drop its leaves and stop growing new flower stems. Remember to feed these flowers 1 time a month, but nitrogen fertilizer for this purpose should be used with great care because if cockscomb overfeed, it will stop flowering, but the leaves will be very dense. Do not forget to loosen the soil around the shrubs and to weed systematically.
Cockscomb After Flowering
To obtain cockscomb seeds, pick a few flowers that have started to fade. Place them in a dry vase and put them in a dark place. When they are completely dry, remove the seeds by shaking them on a piece of newspaper. Blow out the seeds that have crumbled together with the debris, then store them in a box. If you wish, you can collect the seeds in another way. Suspend them with their inflorescences facing down and place a paper underneath. When the seeds have dried and matured, they will drop onto this sheet of paper.
As a rule, the remains of the cockscomb are disposed of in the autumn. However, you can make dried bouquets from the inflorescences if desired. To do this, you need to cut off a few flowering inflorescences of the taller variety, remove the leaves and bring them inside. Bundle them up and store them in a well-ventilated, dark room. Wait until the brightly colored inflorescences have dried completely. They are then placed in a vase without water.
Cockscomb Species and Varieties
- Cockscomb argentea f. cristata
Approximately 0.45 m tall, but some varieties are shorter. The leaves vary in color depending on the type and may be burgundy, gold, green, or bronze. Its large rooster-like inflorescences are made up of small orange or red-purple flowers. Varieties include:
● Impress – the bush reaches 20 to 25 centimeters in height and the color of the leaf plates is dark red, and the inflorescences are red;
● Atropurpurea – about 20-25 centimeters high, with a light pink stem, purple inflorescences, and pale green leaf laminae;
● Imperialis – not very tall bush has dark red stems and inflorescences and purple leaf laminae with veins of red.
- Cockscomb argentea f. plumosa
Some of the varieties grow to approximately 100 centimeters, but there are also a dwarf and low-growing ones. The tips of the erect stems bear large panicles that may be colored in various shades of red, orange, or yellow. The leaf laminae can be pale green, red, deep green, and pink. Varieties include:
● Goldfeder – The low-growing bush is adorned with golden-colored inflorescences;
● Tomsoni Magnifica: A tall shrub about 0.8m tall with burgundy inflorescences and pale green leaf lamellae;
● Fakelshine – tall bush has paniculate inflorescences in deep red;
● New Onion – 0.35 to 0.4m tall with orange-yellow inflorescences and purple-purple leaf laminae.
- Cockscomb spicata
Not currently in high demand among mid-latitude gardeners, but the popularity of this species is gradually increasing. The height of the shrub can vary from 0.2 to 1.2 m. Small panicles with a spike-like appearance can be yellow, red, orange, or white. The Coral Spike cockscomb deserves special attention.
The cockscomb is considered a natural plant, but certain external factors can hurt its health. Firstly, the air temperature must be monitored. Drought, frost, and strong winds can destroy young seedlings. This is why the cockscomb is grown as an annual in medium latitudes. The root system will suffer major harm from over-irrigation and an overly damp substrate. Only during dry periods is watering done. The shrub signals when it needs water. Its leaves will drop to the ground, and its flower stems will stop growing.
Most pests avoid the cockscomb, and aphids most often infest it. Insecticides, fungicides, or a special solution you can make yourself can help combat these insects' colonies. Dilute liquid soap with two glasses of water and add a glass of vegetable oil. Carefully treat the cockscomb with the solution once a day. Preferably do it in the evening, when the heat outside the window has died. High temperatures are bad for the leaves and stem and put the plant under stress. In general, the flower has powerful immunity. It is for its unpretentiousness and lush flowering that it is so beloved by many florists.
Gardeners recommend feeding the cockscomb approximately once a month but handling it carefully. Compound fertilizers and flowering fertilizers are suitable for the crop. Nitrogen fertilizers can hurt flowering, and the cockscomb will produce lush foliage but will not flower. Loosen the soil around the plant with a rake or stick, and don't forget to weed.
Does cockscomb regrowth occur annually?
Cockscomb plants are annuals, not perennials, and will only return year after year if seeds are sown within six weeks or earlier in the spring. Due to self-seeding outside, they might return every spring.
How is the cockscomb taken care of?
Although it prefers warm climates, it can still be grown as an annual in regions with harsh winters. Put this plant in a location with plenty of sunlight, rich, moist soil, and good drainage. Throughout the growing season, deadhead the spent blooms to promote additional flowers to blossom.
Does cockscomb keep blooming?
From June until the first frost, cockscomb can bloom. Deadheading your cockscomb during that time will promote fresh flowers. As soon as the blooms turn brown and lose their color, remove them. After this stage, if you wait too long, seed development begins, and the plant concentrates its energy there rather than on fresh flowers.