Cosmos Flowers: An introduction

Petals of the flower cosmos are evenly placed, and the leaves grow as opposite pairs on the stems. The word cosmos is from the Greek and means, appropriately, order, balance, and harmony. If the antonym of cosmos is chaos, the flower cosmos represents that concept as well, for it grows in a profuse, riotous array of colors.

There are many cultivated varieties. Albatross is pure white. The popular Chocolate cosmos is a deep burgundy and smells like chocolate! Bright Lights cosmos is a blend of yellow, gold, and scarlet. Candy Stripe is white with rose colored stripes.

Sea Shells has rolled petals and comes in pink, rose, white and crimson. Sensation is a larger variety that produces blossoms in shades of red, pink, and white. Yellow Garden cosmos is a soft lemon yellow. These are but a few choices for the gardener who wants to grow this flower.

There are 20 to 26 known species, and numerous hybrids, both annuals and perennials.

Cosmos is a very easy flower to grow. It grows almost anywhere, tolerating hot and dry conditions and poor soils. In fact, rich and fertile soils tend to inhibit the development of its colorful blossoms and cause the plant to grow too tall.

Some cosmos varieties reach four to six feet in height and should be staked. Cosmos is excellent background plant for a garden.

The seeds of cosmos are large, making them easy to plant. Seeds should be sown just before the last expected frost, and pressed into the soil rather than covered. It will tolerate some shade but does best in the sun. It is seldom subject to pests or disease.

As with many annual flowers, seeds can be gathered and saved from year to year. Wait until the petals have fallen, then cut the flower off the plant and let it dry. When the seeds turn black, it is time to pull them off the stem by their hair-like ends and store in a safe place for the next year’s planting.

In the Victorian language of flowers, the cosmos represents modesty. References to cosmos appear but rarely in literature. A Japanese movie, the English title of which is Remembering The Cosmos Flower, was released in 1997 and is the story of a young girl cut down in the flower of youth by the AIDS virus.

Also, a poem by writer, publisher and literary critic William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite, comparing the beauty of the Persian queen Scheherazade to the cosmos flower, appeared in the Anthology of Magazine Verse in 1922.

Cosmos is native to Central America and grows freely in the dry and alkaline soils of Mexico. Because it germinates so easily and is drought resistant, cosmos is considered a noxious weed in some areas of the US. (If this is the case in your area, you’ll want to avoid it.) This bright flower is said to attract birds and butterflies.

Since its introduction into colder climates, cosmos varieties have been developed that tolerate shorter growing seasons. This attractive flower is easy for the beginner to raise but also makes a fine addition to the most sophisticated of gardens.

Want to learn more about growing the Cosmos flower?

This Texas A&M extension has plenty of great information in relation to the cosmos flower.
Garden Hobbies also explains a lot about the cosmos flower and caring for it.

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