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Home Blog FLOWER FOCUS: Celosia
May 27th 2014

FLOWER FOCUS: Celosia

Written by
Floret

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I’ve been longing to grow Celosia for many seasons now but here in the cool PNW, cultivating them outdoors is pretty iffy. While farmers everywhere seem to be swimming in fields of them from mid summer until frost, I’ve only had success by planting them under cover. With greenhouse space being limited, there has never been an opportunity to give them a proper go. But last spring we put up three new 140ft hoops and set aside adequate space for a trial. My amazing Gloeckner rep Tom Jobb (track this guy down!) did a huge amount of work and got me every single variety on my wish list.

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Packets of seed started rolling in from all of the generous donors throughout the months of March and April, and we got seedlings growing in their plugs trays by mid May. Branching types like the Cramer’s, Kurume’s and Celway’s were sown into 72 cell trays and single stem or faster growing types like the Bombay’s and Pampas Plumes were sown in 288 cell trays. Unfortunately the whole trial got bumped back a month later than planned because our spring hoops didn’t finish blooming as early as we had hoped. So plants were set out in late June vs. mid May like we had intended.

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There is nothing like a good side by side trial to show the true nature of a plant. Seeing a variety growing solo is one thing, but when you can hold it up next to half a dozen other varieties with similar colors or shapes, that’s when their unique differences really are revealed.

Lily with an armload of Celosia from our trial

Lily with an armload of Celosia from our trial


 
Since we have an abundance of 9×9″ pre burned landscape fabric on hand, all of the branching varieties were planted at this spacing. In the future they will get at least 12×12″ or even 12×18″, especially if we pinch them again. Single stem types like the Bombay’s went into 6×6″ fabric and this spacing seemed ideal.

When plants were about 8″ tall we went through and pinched all of the branching varieties. Looking back, they should have been pinched much harder so that branching would have started down lower, resulting in better overall stem length. This year we’ll do better.

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Plants grew very well in the low hoops and the first stems were harvested by late August. The Supercrest mix was the first to flower followed by Forest Fire and the Pampas Plume mix, then Sylphide, the Bombay’s and Sunday’s and lastly the Enterprises, Celway’s, Startrek’s, Cramer’s, Chief’s and the other odds and ends. While all were beautiful, there were certainly varieties that stood out from the rest based on color, plant vigor and overall bloom consistency.

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Of the 59 varieties, 20-25 made the final cut. Following are many of my favorites but keep in mind that results will certainly vary depending on your location and particular floral needs. For example, if you’re growing for wedding and design work you’d probably prefer the wheat types or pastel tones, or if you’re into drying you’d most likely want to focus on the Cramer series, whereas I was focusing on bright, bold, large flowers for mixed bouquets.

For a super detailed report on every variety in the trial, including each ones highlights and problems, go to Growing For Market and order the February and March 2014 issues. Both are available digitally.

**A huge thank you to all of the companies who so generously donated seed for this trial:Takii, Pan American Seed, Genesis Seeds, Kieft and Sakata. If you’re interested in growing any of these varieties they’re available through Fred C. Gloeckner Co.

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The Bombay series is a great, fast crop of fan shaped blooms, available in a wide rainbow of colors. We found that while all are beautiful, some varieties had a high % of fasciated stems or aborted flowers. Of the fifteen we tested, these four were the best.

Celosia Bombay 'Fisal' & 'Pink'

Celosia Bombay ‘Fisal’ & ‘Pink’


 
‘Fisal’: Nice thin stems, 70% of deep pink/coral blooms were perfect fan shapes, gorgeous multidimensional flowers. A winner!

‘Pink’: Our favorite of the Bombay’s! Thin stems, huge flower heads which were more oval than fan shaped and they resemble dark blush pink hydrangeas. Perfect for wedding work!

‘Firosa’: Bold, bright, clear rose pink large headed blooms with a tinge of orange lining each ruffle. Thin stems, consistent bloom set. A great variety!

‘Candy’: Just like the name implies, sweet as can be. Electric deep rose pink blooms with orange veins. A real eye catcher! Nice thin stems, large fans and consistent flower set. A favorite!

Celosia Bombay 'Firosa'

Celosia Bombay ‘Firosa’


 
Supercrest Mix: The first variety to bloom in the trial, even before the Pampas Plumes. Monster four foot plants which were loaded with perfectly sized stems. A wide range of beautiful pastel flowers including white, pale lemon, peach, coral, rose, salmon and a few burgundy. Fan shaped flower heads with 10% being plumes. Great in wedding work. Needs to be succession planted 3-4 times for a season full of flowers. A real keeper!

Celosia 'Supercrest Mix'

Celosia ‘Supercrest Mix’


 
Cramer’s ‘Burgundy’: Beautiful dark burgundy fan shaped flowers. Consistent head shape and color. Very disease resistant and vigorous. A keeper!

Cramer’s ‘Rose’: Large fat fan shaped blooms. Color varied between rose and dark magenta. Head shape was consistent but necks a little bit weak. This could have been due to being planted is a less fertile spot. Growing again because of the exceptional color.

Celosia Cramer's 'Pink & Burgundy'

Celosia Cramer’s ‘Rose & Burgundy’

Chief ‘Carmine’: Electric carmine red brain shaped blooms. A lot of fasciated stems but still great for bouquets.

Chief ‘Persimmon’: Great bright clear orange brain type bloom. Needs a low pinch for longest stem length and space to spread out. Good sized blooms for bouquets. A must grow! ‘

Temple Bells ‘Orange’: Nice and tall. Lots of branching and produced tons of useable stems for bouquets. Flowers are a rich salmony orange and range from small brains to thick fans. Foliage is yellow/green. Roughly 10% of flowers had thin magenta streaking.

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The ‘Sunday’ series. 
We grew these beauties with no pinch which resulted in one large foxtail flower each.  Future pinching is a must for multiple stems per plant. Up to six could be expected. 

Celosia Sunday series

Celosia Sunday series


 
Salmon:  Our favorite color in the series, the blooms were a tropical clear orange.  Heads were more pointed and feathery than others. A small percentage reverted to combs. They blended beautifully with pink, orange, yellow and green flowers. 

Red:  Gorgeous dark foliage, with fuzzy maraschino cherry colored blooms made this variety a winner!

Dark Pink:  Rich magenta flowers that could be paired with almost anything!  Very uniform, vigorous and was our favorite pink spike from the entire trial.

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Sylphide:  A very productive variety that was also fast to flower.  Blooms are a lemon/lime in color and can be paired with almost anything.  Eight to ten stems per plant but with a low pinch, more could be expected.  A keeper!

Celosia 'Sylphide'

Celosia ‘Sylphide’

Hi-Z:  Quite prolific but not super uniform. Beautiful red hued foliage and long spiky magenta candle shaped blooms. Minimum ten useable stems per plant, plus many shorter side shoots.  Great in bouquets.  

Celosia 'Hi-Z'

Celosia ‘Hi-Z’


 
Celway series. 
A great group of plants which were very vigorous and disease free. They could all benefit from pinching at 6″ tall. 

Terracotta:  A very prolific grower with matte green leaves and long strong stems. The color is a muted salmon-washed out orange. 

Salmon:  Matte grey-green foliage, nice full heads, pinky-salmon (just like the fish flesh) blooms.  A favorite with designers!

(left to right) Celosia Celway 'Orange', 'Salmon, 'Terracotta'

(left to right) Celosia Celway ‘Orange’, ‘Salmon, ‘Terracotta’


 
Enterprise series
I think this series has great potential!  They bloomed right in sync with the Bombay’s, so are easy to schedule and offer a unique flower shape and color range.

Pink: Identical in color to Startrek ‘Pink’ but the stems were stronger, longer, fuller and more visually appealing. 

Wine:  A beautiful dark maroon flowered variety. They would be perfectly paired with Benary Giant Wine zinnias. Eight to nine stems per plant can be expected with a hard for lower branching.

(left to right) Celosia Enterprise 'Wine', Star Trek 'Pink', Enterprise 'Pink'

(left to right) Celosia Enterprise ‘Wine’, Star Trek ‘Pink’, Enterprise ‘Pink’


 
As you can see when it comes to Celosia the choices are almost unlimited. In order to trim down the number of varieties in our trial I skipped yellows, purples and greens but still ended up with a total of 59! This year of course I’m trying the rest ; )

Even if you can only tuck a small test plot in at the back of your garden each year, I promise you’ll certainly discover some new and exciting treasures from this family of plants.

Celosia varieties waiting in line to have their portrait taken.

Celosia varieties waiting in line to have their portrait taken.


 
Do you grow Celosia? Is there a favorite variety, seed source or growing technique you’d be willing to share with us?

If so, leave it in the comments section below!

31 Comments

  1. Claire Sluyterman van Loo on

    I’m very much interested in the Sunday series, especially the salmon one. I’ve tried looking up all the seed companies you listed and can’t find one that sells this salmon Sunday Series celosia. Please help.

    Reply
  2. Cora on

    Dear Erin,

    I love your blog. It is so helpful – I have learned so much. Please consider writing a growing guide for celosia. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  3. Margie Cole on

    Does anyone know what minimum air temperature and minimum soil temperature are required to prevent premature blooming of celosia?

    Reply
    • mollyslete on

      Margie,
      I live in Soquel California, zone 9, and am having a problem with premature budding of Karume Celosia. I bought plugs because I was so inspired by Erin’s pictures and her description of the seed trial. I planted them in the field under black plastic mulch, and intended to put hoops over them. Too late now! The information I’ve since found indicates that a night time temperatures above 60 degrees is necessary to prevent premature flower initiation. I also read that any kind of stress (drying out, holding too long in flats, low fertilizer ) can cause premature flower initiation.

    • Margie Cole on

      Mollyslete, thanks for the reply. The minimum nighttime temp of 60 is helpful info.

  4. jan noordam on

    a lot of germination problems are probably the temperature. keep the temp around 30C and keep moist with a high humidity. (cover with plastic) within 3-4 days germination take place.
    if you doubt the viability of the seeds, do a test on kitchen tissue, make it wet on a plate an cover with a microwave film within a week you know the germination rate.
    flower abortion or fasciation is most of the times caused by insects (thrips), in a very young stage the flower buds are damaged by insects. that some varieties have more problems than others, has to do with the colour, thrips have a preferance for purple,red etc
    ps I am a small semi profesional breeder of celosia,s. look on the internet for celosia Turbo and peter kort roses are growing a few this year

    Reply
  5. Angela on

    Hi Erin,
    You often give in row spacing as well as numbers of rows per bed. How wide are your beds? The dahlias you said went into 3′ beds, but from the pics, it looks like your other beds might be almost 6′ on center?
    Thanks,
    Angela

    Reply
    • Floret on

      Our beds are typically 4ft. wide with 2 ft. paths. So yes, 6ft. on center. The Dahlias are also 6ft. on center but have 3ft.paths.

  6. sas on

    What beauties!!
    Erin, I would love love love to read a blog post about postharvest handling techniques. I know it’s flower specific a lot, but a rundown on techniques and when/how to use different helping agents (hydrating solution, flower food, etc) would be beyond helpful!! :)

    Reply
    • Floret on

      Sas, that would be a great post! I’m on it!

  7. Charlene on

    At first I thought it’s hydrangea. :)

    Lovely flowers! I’ve seen these flowers (Celosia Celway) before in yellow color. Beautiful.

    Reply
  8. Evangeline M on

    Great post! I am not sure why, but for some reason I was surprised by how intense the colors were even on just the little seedlings of celosia we planted out a few weeks ago. So much intense beautiful color! Thanks for the tips on pinching. I tried looking it up earlier and got some conflicting information probably due to the many types of celosia.

    Reply
  9. Karen Cherry on

    Great Trial. I remember our Janitor always planted Cockscomb, (saving seed from year to year), in clumps along with a red leaved Canna, beside the wide walkway to my grade school, many moons ago. I have tried the wheat type ‘Flamingo Feather’ and a nice dark foliaged Plumose type but the name escapes me. Just planted ‘Cramer’s Rose’ and ‘Syphilde’. I hope they do well for me also.

    Reply
  10. Viv on

    I also LOVE these posts! And–what beautiful pics, too!! Wow, I surely wouldn’t be able to choose-I love them all. Sooo glad you share with us so we can try some of these. I ordered Sunday’s mix, and it failed to germinate. I didn’t cover the seed, and I misted lightly with water. I think perhaps covering the tray with clear wrap or domes may help next time. Scouring my Indiana area for plants!!!

    Reply
  11. Asiatic Lilies on

    Great, great article with beautiful celosia photos – as always.
    Invormative and helpful, thanks for your hard work in delivering good quality photos to us.

    Reply
  12. Sandra on

    I love celosia and keep adding varieties to my little local flower farm. I do find it hard to germinate. Sometimes I’m very successful, and sometimes I have to do a second round. I don’t cover, use good germination soil, and bottom water. Do you have any helpful advice on better germination rates?

    Reply
  13. Leslie Emanuels on

    I love this kind of post! so informative and inspirational!

    Reply
  14. Laurie Garza (Fleurie) on

    I LOVE celosia! I’ve been growing little patches of it for about 6 years now. I save the seed and replant, so I get all kinds of weird blooms. This year I am planting Pampas Plume and Chief Mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Sunday Mix from Harris Seeds.
    I am excited to see the seedlings from last year’s crop of the Pampas Plume- I liked them for the smaller plumes and bright colors. The Chiefs didn’t do well, they got a late start and never took off. Celosia do great here, as the weather is hot and dry. Some of the paler colors like green can get a little sun-burnt though it seems.Thank you for this article! Makes me love them even more.

    Reply
  15. kim Smith on

    Once again, so informative and inspiring!! Making me want to go buy a shot of this, but am I too late, our spring has been slow to start here though?!!? Love your knowledge Erin <3

    Reply
  16. Colleen Autry on

    Stunning photos. Fascinating results. Informative and enjoyable. Thank you for sharing all your hard work!

    Reply
  17. Jappalin Manning on

    I love Celosia too especially the feathery one! Thank you for showing us all the beautiful different types, very educational!

    Reply
  18. cori on

    I have not tried growing Celosia, thank you for all the info. Thank you for all your work. Will have to try growing some next year.hummmm, maybe I try this year.

    Reply
  19. Lisa on

    I am giving celosia a try for the first time this year. I only went with mixes (Cramer’s) and am taking the plunge and doing them outside with no cover. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for the variety tips!

    Reply
  20. Lydia DeWolf on

    This is definitely my favorite type of post to see on your blog. I would love to be a farmer-florist someday!

    Lydia
    lupinelydia.blogspot.com

    Reply
  21. Full Bloom Flower Farm on

    Last season was my first and I grew Cramer’s ‘Burgundy’ as well as 2 or three other varieties. I was using all the blooms for drying for wreaths and some wacky head wreaths. I planted about 7 varieties this year on my microfarm since I honestly can say I felt a deep romance with this flower. It is the flower every visitor stops to check out and asks if it belongs in the ocean and has to touch it. I wanted really large blooms so I didn’t pinch the brain types and got tiny side shoots which was great for smaller dried wreaths along with the monster blooms. The first light frost got the tops of some to turn black so next year, even if I don’t want to harvest, I will do my best to do so before the frost. Thanks for all this great info.

    Reply

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