Celosia: The Houseplant of July 2020
The story of Celosia
This colourful array of cockscombs occupies a special place in the plant range. With its colours and extravagantly shaped flowers Celosia is an eye-catching character with an almost sensual look. 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 characters such as Amaranthus and Atriplex. Celosia symbolises boldness. If you want to wish someone courage for something exciting, Celosia makes a very fitting gift.
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. The plants are available in various ranges and colours such as Kelos, Merida, Hot Topic, Intenz and Twisted. One unusual cultivar with an eye-catching colour and name is Celosia Vintage.
What to look for when buying Celosia
- Check the proportion between pot size, diameter and thickness of the plant (determined by the number of stems per pot).
- Check the number of flower buds and the ripeness. The foliage is sometimes an attractive green or a bit reddish, which often combines attractively with the colour of the flowers.
- Celosia must be free of pests and diseases. When the flowers or the foliage are damaged or flawed, this is often the result of shipping or storage. There can also be wilted flowers on the plant, or the plant may show yellow foliage. Botrytis - a fungal infection - can occur if too much (condensation) moisture is left between the leaves for a long time. If a plant has been too wet for a long time it can show signs of root rot.
- Check the plant for pests such as whitefly, aphids or red spider mite, although this is less common thanks to today’s cultivation and breeding of crops.
Care tips for customers
- 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. Slightly drooping leaves is a signal from Celosia that it’s time for a drink.
- 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.
Source Flower Council Holland