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January 16th 2024

How to Grow Celosia

Written by
Floret

Celosia is a hardworking group of plants grown for their fuzzy, velvet-like flowers that come in a distinct range of shapes, including fans, plumes, and brains. They are vigorous, free-flowering, and easy to grow. 

They love hot, dry weather and require very little care. In addition to producing an abundance of gorgeous, textural stems that are a wonderful accent for arrangements, they can be dried and used any time of the year.

Because celosia is very cold sensitive, even the slightest nip of frost will be the end of them, so don’t start seeds too early. We wait until about 6 weeks before our last spring frost to sow them in trays in the greenhouse, and we hold off on planting out until the weather has sufficiently warmed. 

Celosia can also be direct-seeded into the garden when outside temperatures are above 60°F (16°C). Seeds are very tiny, so don’t bury too deeply when planting. 

In our cool maritime climate, celosia must be planted under cover in order to thrive, but in warmer parts of the world, they do great outside. 

Like every flower grown on our farm, we try to give them the best start possible and prepare our planting beds with a generous dose of compost and organic fertilizer. Learn more about soil preparation here.

Once planting beds are prepared, we lay down drip irrigation lines and then cover the beds with a layer of preburned landscape fabric. The landscape fabric adds heat and suppresses weeds, but it’s not necessary for success.

Plants are spaced 9 to 12 in (23 to 30 cm) apart and are watered deeply twice a week, sometimes more in hot weather. 

When plants are about 6 to 8 in (15 to 20 cm) tall, we give them a hard pinch by snipping the top 3 to 4 in (7 to 10 cm) from the central stem. This encourages abundant branching from the base, resulting in dozens of perfectly sized stems from each plant. 

For taller varieties, be sure to corral or stake plants to support their lush growth and keep plants from toppling over. 

If planting your celosia in long rows, they can be corralled by pounding heavy stakes or T-posts around the perimeter of the bed and using bailing twine to create a string-lined box to hold the plants upright. If they are being grown in the landscape, individual plants can be tied to stakes using twine. 

Flower heads get bigger as they mature, so pick them when they are the size you want but before they go to seed. Strip 80 percent of the foliage off during harvest, since it will wilt long before the flower heads fade in the vase. 

Celosias are an insanely long-lasting cut flower, often persisting for up to 2 weeks without preservative. 

Flowers can also be dried for later use. To dry, hang freshly cut stems upside down in a warm, dark place for 2 to 3 weeks or until they are firm to the touch.

Celosias are often overlooked and treated more as a foliage or filler. However, once you discover all of the shapes, sizes, and colors available, and their versatility for arranging, you’ll be hooked. Plus, they are one of the easiest flowers to save seeds from.

I’ve grown and documented hundreds of varieties of celosia over the years. If you want to see which ones are my very favorite, visit the celosia section of the Floret Library.

I would love to hear about your experience with this wonderful group of plants. Do you grow celosia or plan to add them to your garden this coming season? If so, what are your favorite varieties?


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60 Comments

  1. kirsten osmond on

    Hello, Wondering about hardening off celosia seedlings – I see about not direct sowing until temperatures are around 60F , but what about celosia started indoors, my night time temps are still in the low 50’s, would that be too cold to put out seedlings?

    Reply
    • Team Floret on

      Celosia doesn’t like cool temperatures, so I’d wait a bit longer if possible.

  2. Jim weaver on

    I never realized they could be used as a cut flower. My dragons breath look really nice most of the spring and summer.

    Reply
  3. Debbie on

    When you do succession planting do you start each batch inside regardless of the season? (I.e. start a batch inside in spring, and then a later one inside under grow lights in mid-summer for fall bloom?)

    Reply
  4. Stacy Schlobohm on

    I just ordered for the first time from you today, for now just the celosia, it seems most talk is starting early indoors, not much talk on direct sow, is it harder to direct sow or just never get a bloom in time or what? Hopefully I can direct sow in Missouri as soon as I get the packets.

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      They can be directly sown when the temperatures are consistantly above 60 degrees as they don’t tolerate coldness. We start them indoors to give them a head start on the growing season and we’re able to control the growing conditions for better germination results.

  5. Sharon on

    Hi! I have planted my dahlia seeds, celosia seeds and zinnia seeds! They are doing great inside under the grow lights! How tall do they need to be before I can transplant them outside? I think it’s still going to be a bit cool at night for the next week, so it’s not time yet based on our weather. I was wondering how long they can stay in the cells before they are too big for the cells and also not too small to be transplanted outside. Thank you!!!

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      When they have several sets of true leaves then they can be transitioned outside (hardening off first) as the climate allows. One way to tell if they’ve outgrown their cell trays is by checking their roots to see if bind up at the bottom.

  6. Cindi on

    I took a garden tour in Williamsburg in 2017 when I first moved to Virginia. At the end of the tour we were allowed to gather seeds from their celosia plants. I have been drying the seeds and planting these babies from the older plants. It makes me feel a part of history. I think they are one of my favorite flowers!

    Reply
  7. Judy Dreeszen on

    This is the first year that I am going to try to grow Celosia. I live in Kansas, so I am waiting until about May 1 to plant my seeds directly in the ground in a sunny hot location. Thanks for the tips in this email.

    Reply
  8. Andrea on

    Mine all unalived as soon as I put them under the grow lights! Could you advise as to water and grow light needs? I have a few seeds left, so plan to try again.

    Reply
  9. Kathy Ascher on

    If planting in cells, how many seeds per cell, or per hole?? Do you thin? or just sprinkle and plant out? I have read they do t like to be transplanted, or stay short if transplanted. Any truth to this? Zone 10a. Thanks for the info as always!

    Reply
  10. Catherine Green on

    I’ve bought several of your originals and started in the greenhouse. I’ve begun to transplant into a new Potager garden I am developing. So excited and happy to see them begin to grow.

    Reply
  11. Cathey Jo Schuster on

    Cathey from Bangor, MI. Your new celosia seeds have germinated beautifully. Thank you for your hard work. They are one of my favorite flowers.

    Reply
  12. Teresa Liesenfeld on

    I have not grown celosia in a long time and when I did I just purchased a few plants. I ordered the new Rose Gold from you so I’m excited to give it a try. I think I’ll start a few in the house under grow lights so that I don’t get to anxious about starting them outdoors before warm enough. I sure enjoy your info and videos!

    Reply
  13. Deborah on

    This article is so helpful for a celosia beginner, Erin. Thank you. NE of England seems to have a similar climate to yours. Trying ‘Flamingo’ which has germinated in my unheated conservatory 2 weeks after sowing. I don’t have a hoop house so now I’m prepared for the challenge ahead whilst hoping for a hot dry summer.
    Would love to try different varieties if this works out. Thanks again.

    Reply
  14. Elyse on

    Do they direct sow well? Challenges to look out for tricks to help? I bought Floret’s Spun Sugar this year!

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      When direct sowing, wait until the weather is consistantly above 60 degrees and plant according to the growing instructions on the seed packet.

  15. Cathy Trainer on

    I grow celosia every year. My favorite are the cristata (brains). I’ve had the get up to 8 to 10 inches across . Kids love them and I like to share.
    Thanks for all your good information

    Reply
  16. Elaine Forum Smidt on

    I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and grew celosias in my garden for the first time this season. I am totally in love with them. They have been so satisfactory! They put up with the very hot weather and are totally bug resistant. The colours make the garden come alive! No only that but now that we are entering autumn, they self seeded and I have a whole new batch growing happily and blooming in containers out in the garden! I will be travelling to the USA next week to visit my son and eagerly awaiting to pick up the seeds I ordered from Floret to bring back to my country with me. The celosia I got locally only grew to about 30cms in height. Yours seem so much taller. Can’t wait to see what they do in my garden next summer! I have only one thing I am curious about. I was always scared to cut the top plume because I didn’t know if the secondary branches would produce plumes as big as the primary one (I never pinched them either!) Do they?

    Reply
  17. Heather on

    I am zone 7a and Celosia grew so well last year and I just fell in love with it. I cannot wait to grow it again this year! I forget the name of it but it is a pretty bright pink. I am just starting to take some flowers out into my yard as temperatures still oscillate in Virginia this time of year. I am aching to see some color in my yard!

    Reply
  18. Holly on

    I heard that you’re not supposed to pinch singe stem celosia varieties. Are any of Floret’s celosia singe stem? I’m growing ‘Coral Reef” this year.

    Reply
  19. karen koors on

    Over 50% of my Celosa have sprouted, so do I turn off the heat Matt now & take the lid off?

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      Yes, if the place they’re growing in is still warm (above 60 degrees) they can be removed from the heat mat and placed under lights.

  20. Nalini on

    I bought golden plume celosia seeds and ended up sowing early inside though. Plants have been pinched but they recently got frost on their tips which discolored the foliage. Hope I can grow them back as I still need at least to hold them in small greenhouse for 30 days . Zone 6b

    Reply
  21. Diane Peter on

    I’ve direct seeded my coral reef celosia in my raised garden bed a few weeks ago, (packet directions say nothing about temperatures needing being above 60, nor direct seeding outdoors, but I did wait till after danger of frost. ) I live in zone 9b and well past frost temperatures. To date not one celosia has sprouted? So not sure why. If temps dropped below 60, does that mean that none of the seeds would be viable?

    Reply
  22. Hilary Shohoney on

    Thank you for asking that! I had the same question. Also stuck at two leaves over here. Will reduce water.

    Reply
  23. Pat on

    I generally seed my “ heirloom” brain red celosia in mid may here in Ohio and pretty much leave them to fend for themselves with great results. I do have a question, I bought floret coral reef this year and need to know how far away they should be planted from my reds to prevent a cross seed?

    Reply
  24. Elizabeth on

    I’m wondering about thinning the seedlings. The seeds are so tiny I ended up with small bunches. Am I supposed to snip all but one? I feel bad doing this, lol

    Reply
  25. Caroline Gerardo on

    I’m zone 10a on the water in Moss Beach. It’s cold, windy, and foggy until July. I grew Sangria Mix from Floret seeds in a greenhouse and velvet cake (a more brainy shaped one from someone else) that could not make it outside. What other flowers have blue red hues but can survive in my climate? Things that do well: calla lily, nasturtiums, borage, and native grasses. Looking for red to make my heart sing. Anyone?

    Reply
  26. Jill on

    My zinnias and dahlias are growing great but my celosia are stuck at two leaves and have been for almost 2 weeks. Any ideas as to why they are not growing as well as the others? Keeping the temp between 65 and 75 degrees and under the light for 14 hours.

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      If the soil is too wet they tend to slow down, so let the soil dry in between waterings. I hope this helps!

  27. Jennifer Bauman on

    I have found them to be relatively deer resistant for several years, growing in North Georgia. The reseed abundantly, and persist through hot and dry weather. The deer may nibble on young leaves, but they are one of the few plants in my garden to survive the tremendous amount of deer that comes through. These plants do great in GA and TN, love the heat, humidity or dryness, whatever comes at them. I direct sow in early May, many varieties.

    Reply
  28. Donna on

    I love flamingo! Fun to use fresh and dried!The muted pink color goes with everything and the smaller size fits my smaller garden.

    Reply
  29. Betsy Leong on

    I am having the same issue as Leah Ferguson. Germinated fantastically. But…. No true leaves and it’s been forever. Roots literally coming out of the bottom of my starter tray. But the seedlings are tiny. Any thoughts or help would be so appreciated!!

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      Celosia doesn’t like to get too wet or cool, so the soil may need to dry out a bit before watering and place them somewhere warm around 70 degrees.

  30. Kimberly Manning on

    Trying celosia for the first time this year! Spun sugar from Floret. It’s been a slow start in the greenhouse here in Sandpoint Idaho in zone 5b (our last frost date is around May 20th!) but germination rates were pretty high and the tiny seedlings are doing well. Once our season rolls around, the summers are hot and dry with long northern days of sunshine. I’m excited to work with these in arrangements!

    Reply
  31. Leah Ferguson on

    Looking for update on my previous comment. My celosia have been the same for 4weeks now. Stuck on 2 leaves, it not dead

    Reply
  32. Kathy on

    So helpful! Thank you so much for sharing this.
    I love the plume varieties, and am so excited to grow the Floret Lemonata this year!
    Things are germinating great, but them damping off in my seed room. I have tweaked temp, and even have a dehumidifier in my seed room to help things dry out more. Celosia seedlings don’t seem to need much water. Is this accurate? What temp would you say is best for growing on after germination?
    Lemonata is in my next succession and I don’t want to lose ANY of them! Thanks friends at Floret!

    Reply
  33. Jackie Nordeman on

    I tried celosia last year (pink flamingo) and they didn’t do well (my fault) I did harvest a single stem. I didn’t space them properly and my raised bed was way too full of stuff (there are memes out there for people like me 🤣). I’m giving them a-go again this season and this time, I’ll treat them better.

    Reply
  34. Victoria Roberts on

    Can not kill this beautiful plant in zone 8b on the Eastern Shore of Virginia if it’s planted out after our last frost which is April 15. Our sandy hot climate is perfect for this beauty!
    I have left for almost two weeks have not watered and these beautiful flowers have survived and come back with heavy cutting. I have to say I am excited to grow new varieties this year as I believe a lot of the pastel colors that you have put out will do well with the Pantone color of the year, especially for weddings! We have one in particular in September that is looking for whimsical and I believe some of your past will definitely be involved!!

    Reply
  35. Iana CraneWing on

    I am concerned about planting my celosia outside too after reading this. My seedlings are strong after 3 weeks. They are growing slowly but I don’t mind since where I live on the midcoast of Maine it will be a month before we are frost free. I do not have a greenhouse just some grow lights inside. Am I doomed to have stunted celosia because of where I live?

    Reply
  36. Margaret on

    We live in zone 7a and start celosia seeds indoors in 72 plug trays, under grow lights. My germination rate is abysmal. I mist the top to keep from crusting over and I bottom water. I know the seeds don’t like to be disturbed so I’m very gentle with the trays. These are the only seeds I have this problem with no matter who I get the seeds from. Any thoughts/advice? Thank you!

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      Don’t bury the seeds too deep but just press them into the soil and lightly cover and place a humidity dome lid over them until sprouts emerge. Maintain the soil temperature between 70-80 degrees.

  37. Cayce on

    Same here–dahlias and zinnias are taking off but celosias are stuck at 2 leaves for weeks.

    Reply
  38. Chelsea on

    Can the celosia seedlings be transplanted into the garden in Seattle once it warms up? I was a bit confused on the guidance above — it looks like the celosia is under the green house for the entire season? Please advise

    Reply
  39. Leah Ferguson on

    I’m having a hard time getting my celosia seeds I purchased to grow. They started off fine but have not made any significant growth in two weeks. What am I doing wrong? The dahlias are right on track

    Reply
  40. Mia on

    I don’t have a greenhouse or high tunnel. Can I grow Celosia (in Seattle) in a DIY tunnel to cover? My bed is 4’ wide. If I make a low tunnel it seems like it would be too small. What material do I need to buy to cover?

    Reply
  41. Kit on

    Are these deer resistant? I am getting different information from the internet

    Reply
  42. Holly on

    We live in Reno, NV. Our soil is arid and rocky and temperatures in summer are hot 90-105 degrees F, with cool nights, strangely dipping into 50’s. The season is short, however, as we definitely encounter all 4 seasons, including snow- sometimes in the fall. Crazy! I’d love to add color to my yard- and looooove celosia. What do you think?!?

    Reply
  43. KD on

    Are these a cut and regrow flower thought the season?

    Reply
    • BriAnn, Team Floret on

      They’re considered a medium producer so they won’t produce as many blooms after being harvested as cut-and-come-agains.

  44. Maria on

    Christy, YES! Those little black crumbs are the seeds! Each flower has so many seeds and you should totally save them!

    Reply
  45. Christy on

    I grew some celosia last summer and loved them! I have a question. I noticed on the blooms as they got older that there were very little black looking things that came out when I tapped the blooms into my palm. Are those the seeds and can I save them to replant? Thanks for any information!!

    Reply
  46. Domi on

    Will it grow outside without nightly cover if our daytime temperatures are hot, but our nights hover around 10-15 degrees C as a low (50-60 F). We are in zone 4a Canadian (Zone 3 in USDA).

    Reply
  47. Elaine Forum Smidt on

    I live in Argentina and only discovered the wonder and beauty of celosia this summer! I have a small garden and only grow flowers for my personal pleasure but will certainly be planting these over and over again. They have done beautifully in our hot damp summers in Buenos Aires and have filled my garden with colour. I still have a lot to learn about them. For example I can’t really figure out when to cut or deadhead the flowers because they never really look dead and I have no idea where the seeds are to be found amongst the fluff! The variety I was able to purchase here are dwarflike. Unlike yours they don’t seem to grow much more than 20cm/30cm. I am looking forward to order seeds from you when the February sale starts since I will be visiting my son in the USA in April and want to bring them back home with me! I love what you do and I admire your generosity when sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  48. Tara Jones on

    Your celosia, zinnia & dahlia offerings are beautiful. I can’t wait for February.

    Reply

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