Richly colored tropical plants, some with flower clusters in bizarre shapes. In cut arrangements, celosias are attractive with other flowers, but in gardens they are most effective by themselves. Dry cut blooms for winter bouquets. Sow seed in place in late spring or early -summer, or set out started plants. Plants will bloom by summer.
C. argentea. COCKSCOMB. Two kinds of cockscombs are derived from this species, which has silvery white flowers and narrow leaves to 2 in. or longer. One group, the plume cockscombs (often sold as C. 'Plumosa'), has plumy flower clusters. Some of these (sometimes sold as Chinese woolflower or C. 'Childsii') have flower clusters that look like tangled masses of yarn. Flowers come in brilliant shades of pink, orange red, gold, crimson. You can get forms that grow 2123 ft. high and 112 ft. wide. Dwarf, more compact selections grow about 1 ft. high and half as wide; they bear heavily branched plumes. In the humid South, plume cockscombs are prone to rot and usually short-lived.
The other celosia group is the crested cockscombs (often sold as C. 'Cristata'). These have velvety, fan-shaped flower clusters, often much contorted and fluted. Flowers are yellow, orange, crimson, purple, or red. Tall kinds grow to 3 ft. tall and 112 ft. wide, dwarf selections to 10 in. high and 6 in. wide. Crested cockscombs perform much better in the South than plume cockscombs.
C. spicata. WHEAT CELOSIA. Plant is covered in small silvery pink and purple spikes; it looks like a tall wild grass with elegant flowers. Ideal for a natural planting or rock garden and good for drying. Reseeds readily. Reaches 312 ft. high, just 6 in. wide. Selections include 'Flamingo Feather' (soft pink to white), 'Flamingo Purple' (purple spikes and dark reddish green leaves), and 'Pink Candle' (rose-pink spikes).