“The flower that follows the sun does so even on cloudy days.” ~Robert Leighton
While I wait for spring to come, I thought I would profile a special annual flower I grow in my garden, most summers. Cosmos are prized in my garden for their daisy-like flowers, and abundant, easy-to-grow nature. I love seeing the wispy foliage of these flowers emerge. And the bright, cheerful blooms make me smile well into fall as these flowers bravely bloom until the first hard frost.
The name, Cosmos, comes from the Greek word kosmos, meaning “order or the world.” Also
known as Common cosmos, Garden Cosmos or Mexican Aster, this flower is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae). It can be found growing in its natural habitat, along roadsides and ‘waste places’. And I have seen it spring up year after year in harsh spots like hellstrips.
Many species of Cosmos are native to Mexico, parts of the United States, Central America, and South America. And one Cosmos, C. bipinnatus, has naturalized itself across much of the eastern United States and Canada.
Here in the US, these herbaceous plants are considered an annual, and can grow from 1-7 feet high. I had some topping out at 8 feet this past summer.
Cosmos thrive in full sun, and do need some protection from strong winds so the tall stems don’t topple over. They tolerate many soil types, but prefer light, poorly fertile soil. Cosmos need moisture to get started, but once they mature, they are drought tolerant. And if you want plentiful, large flowers, keep them watered regularly. They grow and flower better if you don’t fertilize the plants or amend the soil.
Cosmos are easy to grow from seeds. I sow mine once danger of frost is past, which means they will bloom later in summer. You can start them 4-5 weeks earlier indoors if you want them to bloom sooner. But one interesting thing I learned, was that Cosmos are light-sensitive so they won’t bloom their best until late summer, when the days grow shorter. So really starting them early may not be useful.
Make sure to leave lots of room for these plants to grow. It is recommended you give them 2 feet of space between plants. I prick out seedlings as they are growing to make sure they have space to grow. Of course taller Cosmos like to be placed closer together so they can support each other.
And to keep these plants in flowers, pinch off spent flowers or deadhead them to encourage continuous bloom. Of course I cut mine regularly for vases which works just as well to keep them blooming. I like to leave some blooms on the plants so they may self-sow. And one of the best reasons I love to grow Cosmos is because pests and diseases rarely affect them.
Folklore and Tales
It is said that Spanish mission priests in Mexico cultivated Cosmos in their gardens, and named it because of its “evenly placed petals.”
Cosmos are said to attract Faeries to a garden because Faeries are at home in the wild atmosphere created by Cosmos.
In the language of flowers, it is the symbol of innocence, peace and tranquility.
Cosmos are a staple in cutting gardens, cottage gardens and pollinator or butterfly gardens. If you are an organic gardener, this flower is useful because it attracts lacewings, tachinid flies, hoverflies, and
many parasitic wasps, which prey on insects that can harm your garden. Using a flower to combat pesky insects, is better to me than using chemicals to control pests.
Cosmos has been traditionally used in Mexico and South America to treat Malaria.
It is also known to be used as a topical ointment for sore muscles and skin issues as it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also said to help with fibromyalgia and eczema. Before using any plant for medicinal purposes, make sure you consult an expert.
Cosmos have been used since pre-Columbian times as a source for yellow and orange dyes.
And you can eat the young leaves; either raw in salads or cooked.
Do you grow Cosmos? What is your favorite annual flower?
In A Vase On Monday
I collected rose petals from late fall roses, and kept them in this small ceramic dish from Spain; a gift from a dear friend.
I thought it would make an unusual and lovely vase for this week. Maybe a bit outside the rules, but flowers from my garden, just displayed a bit differently.
I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase: Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday,Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.
Next up on the blog:
Next Monday, I will have my plans for the veg garden. I am anxious to get started sowing seeds indoors soon.
I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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