Monday, November 1, 2010

Cosmos

Cosmos is my favorite garden flower. It is low maintenance and easy to grow. The color varieties include orange, yellow, lemon yellow, pink, purple and white. Cosmos flower have various forms such as single layer, double layer, with stripes and cone shape. There is also a variety with smell of chocolate.



I started with the orange variety by sowing the seeds in a mixture of soil and coco peat in a small medium sized container. The container received the sun light most of the day. Within a span 3-4 days the seedling emerged. Since this was my first experiment with cosmos I did not transplant the seedling and instead left it in container. Few of them emerged stronger and in about 8 weeks they flowered and continued for a month or so. The first step in Cosmos propagation was successful. But I was not very impressed by the number of flowers or the size of it.



Next in line is a variety named Sensation Mix that included mix of white, pink and purple flowers. I sowed the seeds as above. The seedlings emerged within few days and started growing vigorously. I was excited by the prospect of the mix of these colors. However even after waiting beyond two months none of them showed any signs of budding. I was not sure if the problem was with the seeds or the weather. December winter temperature steadily going down and only few hours of sun on my side of house would have been the likely cause. But as a consolation, Mother Nature, finally gave me one single pink bloom just to keep my spirits high and for the record book!







It was time for some serious reading about Cosmos. Internet has so much information about cosmos and researching through them I realized that the Cosmos needs full sun, not much fertile soil and minimum watering. I specifically liked reading through the following two websites.

I decided to wait till the winter pass. By first week of February I started my third cycle of Cosmos experimentation. This time, I selected seeds of Orange, Yellow and Lemon Yellow colored varieties. Also I planned to directly sow it in my corner garden instead of the containers. Prepared the soil by tilling lightly, mixed red soil and then thinly layered coco peat. I had read somewhere that when seeds are directly sown in the soil, it is better to mark the location of the seed using small rolls of paper or cardboard around them.  This way you easily water the proper location and also identify the seedling from other weeds and plants around.



As earlier seedling emerged within few days and started developing fast. For some reason I did not take the photos of the progress they made. However in the next three months, as the scorching summer sun lit up my side of home, the plant started growing vigorously. The Orange variety had slender stems whereas the Lemon Yellow variety has very think stems and very green foliage. And by around 12 weeks most plants started flowering and continued for another two months. The color mix did look very appealing. I had a grand success.






I constantly removed the spend flowers and also collected the seeds when pod was almost dry. I made a mistake of not separating seeds by varieties. Instead I dropped them all in an old show box and kept it shade. After about 2 months, I cleaned all the seeds, blew off the dried petals and then stored them in an air tight container.




 






Very excited, I now longed for some new varieties of the Cosmos. I contacted one of my friends who was in US and was about to return to India in June. Though I order several varieties, only the following two were in stock - Cosmos Candy Stripe  and Cosmos Sea Shells Blend. Not only these seeds were costly (compare to prices in India) but also very few in quantity.  I was not very sure if they would grow at all in Bangalore. I sowed them in container with coco peat and soil mix. I was pleasantly amused when the seedling emerged after few days and started growing fine. 



The buds appeared after 6 week – and that is when I decide to not keep them in the same container. I transplanted them to a several container, 2 seedling per pot and remaining were planted them on the ground in the place were earlier Cosmos generation had flourished.




Sun was still shinning on our side of the house. The constant Monsoon rains and later autumn sunshine ensure healthy growth of the plants. And just like other verities, by 8 weeks, most of them started flowering. And what amazing color they had! I spend so much time gazing these lovely color, feeling the petal, smelling the stem (this variety ‘s stem has a sweet smell), removing spent flowers, collecting the seed buds, and photographing from every angels.

















So after almost a year of experimentation, I can now say I know how to grow this beautiful plant. It is now early November and still flowering. I have collected enough seeds to continue this cycle for another year. Yes, this time I have remembered to store the seeds separately as per the colors.



Meanwhile the worthy Orange variety has self-seeded and is competing with its US counterparts. I had also strewn some seeds in a small patch, under a tree, in front of my house. And they too are now flowering.

Before I finish this post, I would like to share something I discovered while researching about cosmos. In some parks of Japan they grow Cosmos on enormous fields every autumn and it is called Cosmos Festival. The sight is breathtaking and for a fan of Cosmos like me, it is a dream to visit the place.

Update (2010/01/04):
Submitted for How to Find Great Plants (Issue #2) at Appalachian Feet.

10 comments:

  1. That is a fantastic collection of photos of some wonderful flowers! My passion is for growing edible plants. Do you grow any of those? I would be interested to hear about what is grown locally in your part of the world.

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  2. My growing season is just wrapping up so it was a delight to see all your cosmos growing photos. Cosmos is the first plant I can ever remember growing from seed and I was utterly enchanted by its brilliant, paper-thin petals and cheery demeanor.

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  3. Hello Mark Willis and 'Appalachian Feet',
    I was so delighted to read your comments today. for some reason I did not get a notification about your comment being added earlier to this post.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Mark, I am trying to grow some edible plants but the lack of space and the sun light is the hindrance. I am trying mint as well as Basella alba (Malabar Spinach).

    'Appalachian Feet', as you wrote, the same characteristics of cosmos draws me to grow it again and again. The Orange and Lemon Yellow are now in second generation and self seeded. To my surprise the flowers are much larger and pretty. I am carefully segregating the seeds this time around.

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  4. I love the cosmos too for its cheery look and its oh-so-easy care. Though the yelows and oranges are certainly pretty, the ones in last few photos are so gorgeous!

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  5. I love Cosmos also, they're a great plant to have in the butterfly garden! Thanks for sharing your photos and info :)

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  6. Lovely post...I'm with you...if I could only choose 1 annual flower to have, it would be Cosmos...they are just so wonderful!

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  7. The latest issue of How to Find Great Plants is here and your petunias post is listed. Thanks so much for participating, I hope you will again next month. Here’s the issue:

    http://www.appalachianfeet.com/2011/02/01/how-to-find-great-plants-issue-3/

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  8. Cosmos is one of the easier type of flowers to grow. I have many of them in my garden.

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  9. Hello Prashanth, you are just amazing when you took the trouble of exprimenting in your planting of the cosmos. Very informative too. Your photos of the simple cosmos are so gorgeous! Im awarding the Stylish Blogger Award to you, do come and get it from my blog, if you have time.Looking forward to more beautiful posts from you.

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