14 November 2016

the glorious celosia

I have found out what the common name of my crazy celosia plant is: cockscomb. Because the fuzzy, broad blooms
have a wavy edge seen from above.
These flowers got so heavy, the stalks started falling over. I finally got tired of staking them up over and over again, so I cut the broad main blooms off. It still looked pretty with the spiky secondary flowers remaining:
My favorites are the pinks ones.
So I started gathering seed from them. Once the fuzzy stuff starts to dry out and loose color, simply rubbing it with your fingers makes all these shiny black seeds drop out. Cutting the flower heads off the plants, it was really curious to find the flower itself is this flat, crinkle-edged thing that feels like dried leather with fur on it.
You can see from the edge here, how it is this flat plane with the fuzzy stuff growing on either side. I've never really seen another plant that makes a flower like this.
Seed chaff
and the seeds:
I scattered seed from the red ones around the back beds, when the plants starting withering from frost these last two weeks. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I saw that the direct-seeded plants came up late when it was very warm, not until early august. They remained tiny, spiky plants. All bloomed at the same time- the big ones that I started way early in the coldhouse, and the smaller ones that grew straight in the ground. So they must bloom in response to daylight hours, but the size of the bloom depends on how big the plant had a chance to get. If I want my plants to not be so crazy huge next season, I could start them a month later in the coldhouse.

I've also seen ones for sale at the grocery store, that have the blooms snugged close against shorter plants (a foot and a half or so high) with large leaves like my tall ones. I'm guessing those were started early too, but then cut back so the flowers would be on stout, thicker stalks (and maybe not fall over).

Here's how the mailbox spot looked in late september, after I cut off the biggest cockscombs:
You can see sunpatiens on the left really outdid themselves. I wasn't expecting to like this plant, but it lasted longer into the fall than even my coleus. It just got taller and flowered more. Probably will be a repeat in my garden, and maybe even I will take cuttings (though it's hard enough to find space to keep a few sample coleus cuttings going each winter).

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