27 June 2008

The Infinite Cosmos

The Cosmos. Infinite. Who knew that when the 'Sunny Red' cosmos (cosmos sulphreus) were planted from seed over ten years ago, this annual would effortlessly seed itself into infinity and still maintain its fiery red color. Each spring brings a hundred offspring, taking over a front bed that has now become their own and giving new meaning to the word overpopulation. They are given away. They are pulled up and tossed out. And throughout the summer, they grow into their own 4 foot high (1.2 m) shrub. Bumble bees love them almost as much as the neighbors.

I never considered the cosmos a jewel in the garden, but they have drawn more compliments than any other flowering plant. I believe it is their height, easily seen along the front sidewalk and creating a small enclosure on one side, and their numerous red and yellow blossoms that neighbors find appealing. Flowers held above the foliage also help them get noticed.

They start out with lush fern-like leaves and small red flowers containing yellow centers. After a few weeks, the flowers become more numerous. A few more weeks, and the flowers start to become smaller. At this time, it becomes impossible to keep up with beheading the spent dead blossoms and seeds start to form. In the fall, the leaves begin to slowly turn duller green and eventually brown, and fewer and smaller flowers appear. Cutting them back at this time will produce a short burst of fresh new greenery and flowers, but this doesn't last long.

They seldom stray from their bright red color. Once in a while, a hint of yellow or light orange shows up, but the red is fairly consistent. Stems are sturdy and support each other, especially when they are crowded. They are mentioned as cut flowers, but be warned that petals begin falling off after three days. They are not house-broken and love to drop pollen, too.

For The Record:
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Light granular organic fertilizer in spring
  • Color & number of flowers get ooo's & aah's


Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: calendula, purple & silver salvia, nicotiana, monarda, cosmos,
    daylillies, hostas, liatris
  • Tomatoes - golf ball size

4 comments:

Lenkin Design said...
Hi. I really love your blog, but I can't seem to find a subscribe link on your page? Am I missing it? That Mountain Laurel is really fantastic by the way!
Jane Marie said...
This is a beautiful cosmos. Mine are all light colored pinks. I'd like to try to find this one. Thanks for showing us.
Swimray said...
Subscribing: At the bottom left of each main page on most blogs is a "Subscribe to posts (Atom)" link. Is there another way I am missing?

Glad someone is actually reading!
Swimray said...
Ms. Jane: I would gladly send out seeds this fall for next year if requested.