Horticulture Magazine

Celosia ‘Woolflower’ Plant Care & Growing Tips

dark pink, yellow and orange celosia flowers

Celosia Overview

Official Plant NameCelosia
Common Name(s)Woolflower
Plant TypePerennial Flower
Native AreaAfrica
Hardiness RatingH2
ToxicityEdible
FoliageSimple or lobed, alternate leaves
FlowersInflourescences, plume-like, various hues
When To SowApril, May
Flowering MonthsJuly, August, September
Sunlight

Preferred
Full Sun

Exposure
Sheltered

Size

Height
0.1 – 0.5M

Spread
0.1 – 0.5M

Bloom Time
July – September

Soil

Preferred
Chalk, Loam, Sand

Moisture
Moist but well drained

pH
Any

The bright celosia flower is both edible and ornamental, making for a well-rounded addition to your home’s garden.

The celosia plant has many names. It is more commonly known as the “Woolflower” and comes from a family of plants that are short-lived perennials.

Other plants in the same family include Quinoa, the Prince-of-Wales feather, and pitseed goosefoot.

Identifying Celosia

There are three main versions of celosia, which can be separated by studying the overall look of each flower bud.

Plume Celosia

The first can be identified by its lightly feathered, almost tree-like flower shape. Plume celosia doesn’t need to be grown in huge batches to look inviting. In fact, just having a few of these plants together can give their surroundings a pop of colour.

Colours of these blooms include yellow, orange, red, and pink. Like the flowerheads, the leaves of plume celosia plants start wide and end in a thinner point.

plumed cockscomb, celosia in red and yellow
Plume celosia cast in the colours of fall.

Cockscomb Celosia

Cockscomb celosia, or cock’s comb celosia, grow into vivid and deep coloured blooms with carnation-like blossoms. The blossoms will appear to be softly folded into each other on every individual flowerhead.

This type of celosia can be found in some beautiful, rich colour tones. You’ll be able to pick up seeds for a deep purple-pink, and a more calming red-pink. Of course, orange and yellow cockscomb celosia exist, too.

Cockscomb celosia has quite large leaves, which tapper off to a point at the end. They’re a deep green, and they stop a small amount of length before the beginning of the flower bud.

Wheat Celosia

The name of this breed of celosia hugely helps with its identification. Wheat celosia grows into tall, thin flower blossoms. Which look like, you guessed it, stalks of wheat! They’re delicate flowers, and if not for the leaf patterns, would look like a breed of lavender from afar.

Unlike the other major celosia blooms, wheat celosia will only grow in purple or pink buds, usually in combination with a soft white tone.

Wheat celosia leaves are long and coloured in a fresh green tone. Each stalk of the plant will have several leaves along the length, leading up to the flower bud.

Other names for Celosia                       

As with all other flora, there are many names for the various breeds of celosia.

To keep some semblance of order, we’ll stick to the three major celosia plants that have already been mentioned. Under each of the next three headings, you’ll find a handful of variations and variants of the name for that breed of celosia.  

Plume Celosia

  • Celosia plumosa – The alternative name for plume celosia.
  • Prince of Wales feathers – Another alternative name for plume celosia.
  • Celosia argentea – The species name for plume celosia.
  • Plumed cockscomb – One of the common names of celosia plumosa.
  • Silver cock’s comb – Another common name of celosia plumosa.

Cockscomb Celosia

  • Celosia argentea var. cristata – Cockscomb’s subspecies name.
  • Celosia cristata – The former subspecies name of cockscomb.

Wheat Celosia

  • Celosia spicata – The subspecies name for wheat celosia.
  • Flamingo feather – An award-winning strain of celosia spicata.
cockscomb flamingo feather with a hint of purple and dark green leaves
A closeup of wheat celosia with a charming hint of purple.

Interestingly enough, all three variations of celosia can be found under the term “Woolflower” and “Cockscomb”. As if their names didn’t overlap enough already!

Properties of Celosia

Celosia plants prefer full sunlight and only bloom in the summertime. Their preferred temperature will depend on the breed of Celosia that you’ve chosen for your garden. For example, the common Plume Celosia will happily continue their day in temperatures as low as four degrees Celsius.

Celosia in China

Celosia argentea, that being the plumed version of celosia, has a bountiful history in China. There’s been plenty of research over the years into the properties of the plant variant, including scientific studies which have shown that celosia argentea is effective against many diseases.

For example, the compounds in celosia argentea possess the properties necessary to be anti-oxidant. In traditional Chinese medicine, this variant of celosia was used to treat eye conditions and eye diseases, including swelling, conjunctivitis, and blurred vision.

Of course, we do not recommend employing celosia in any of its forms as a medicinal treatment unless your treatment is being carried out by a medical professional.

Celosia as an edible plant

In Africa, celosia is widely grown to be used as a vegetable. Young flowers (rather than fully bloomed ones), leaves, and stems are all used in various recipes and meals. The leaves can also be used as a side dish by themselves, usually after being steamed or boiled in water.

Celosia plants are non-toxic for both humans and cats, which is great for pet parents that are worried about the flora that they grow in their gardens. Cats get into everything, and if they can get to it, they’ll chew it. Knowing that you don’t have a toxic plant can give you peace of mind.

In terms of nutrition, celosia has enough iron, protein, calcium, and vitamin A and C to be compared with other leafy vegetables. It’s better to eat celosia before the flowers of the plant fully develop, as during this time, the nutritional content is higher.

Field of red Cockscomb in a park
The tall stalks of crested celosia in a cool coral tone.

Celosia Plant Care

Celosia is quite a hardy plant, but if you find that your flowers are dying, then something has surely gone wrong.

Celosia prefers a more acidic soil PH but will grow in pretty much any type of soil. Their soil must always be drained well but should remain moist.

In the event that you notice that your celosia isn’t doing so well, follow our tips below:

Diseases

Celosia can get root rot, which is why it’s so crucial to only plant your seeds in soil that you know will drain well. Your plant can also suffer from leaf spot diseases and fungal disease. Keep celosia well drained and in the sunlight, and you shouldn’t have an issue. 

Pests

You’ll need to watch for red spider mites when growing celosia. These pests, alongside whiteflies and aphids, will happily infest your celosia plants if you’re growing them underneath glass. They will grow better out in the open rather than inside a greenhouse.

How to revive a Celosia plant

Reviving celosia may not always be possible. If your plant has root rot or a severe case of any of the diseases we’ve mentioned, it may be best to start over with fresh plants and soil.

However, catching these plant diseases in their earlier stages will allow you to treat your celosia before the plant dies off.

To revive a celosia with the beginning stages of root rot, cut the plant’s root above the damaged area and re-pot or replant your celosia into soil that has more circulation and drainage. You’ll need to cut away the damaged roots across the entire plant.

For celosia with leaf spot disease, increase the sunlight, water, and the air circulation for your celosia plant. Similarly, steam rot can be prevented using these same steps.

The best Celosia for beginner gardeners

We’ve spoken about three of the main variants of celosia for this piece, but which is the best variant for beginner gardeners to try their hand at?

All celosia plants are fairly easy to grow for the beginner gardener, but the plumed variety gets our vote for the best celosia for beginners.

Plumed celosia has several of its own selections for you to choose from. A great one for gardens that lack huge amounts of space is the Plumed Castle celosia. This is a colourful celosia plant that grows in shorter heights than other types of plumed celosia varieties.

Tips for growing Woolflower

Although celosia is not a difficult plant to grow and maintain, it’s good to have some idea on how to successfully grow this breed of flora.

Is your garden suitable?

For gardeners that live in warm areas, your property could be perfect for growing celosia plants and having them come back year after year. In most other climates, you will find that your celosia plants need to be replanted again during the spring.

To grow celosia, you will need an area of your garden that benefits from full sun. It’s best to grow celosia in a somewhat sheltered area, to keep the rain from making the soil too wet, and to plant your seeds in soil that drains well.

Best places to plant

The best areas of your garden to plant celosia seeds include border displays and plant beds. You could also plant celosia in their own containers to use as smaller, more decorative plants.

Keep celosia plants around six to twelve inches apart when sowing seeds. Less space for smaller subspecies, more space for those that grow to be quite large.

Celosia looks wonderful in any garden setting, whether you live in an urban or rural setting, have a small cottage garden or an abundance of open garden space.

Best time to plant

Although you can plant celosia after the frost of winter and spring has dissipated, it’s better to wait. When the ground gives way to fresh greenery again, and the sun begins to shine more frequently, it’s time to plant your chosen celosia variants.

Celosia prefers to have a lot of sunlight and heat. Wait until the end of spring or the beginning of summer to get your celosia blooms started.

tiny red celosia flower budding
A tiny, budding celosia flower still some time away from its maturity.

Harvesting Celosia

To harvest celosia plants for eating, you can uproot the entire plant. Celosia can be eaten anytime after the plant’s fourth week of growing. You can also cut the leaves as needed, rather than taking the plant in its entirety.

The leaves of celosia are fine to eat until the plant flowers. After this time, they become quite bitter and not very palatable. As a guide, celosia plants will flower approximately ninety days after sowing the seeds; try to harvest before then.

Other amazing variants

As we’ve mentioned, celosia plants come in a huge selection of different colours, heights, and flowerheads. Here are some of our favourite celosia flowers, so that you can see the range of offerings this plant has.

Arrabona Red

A stunning plume celosia with a rich orange-red tone that is perfect to use in bouquets of flowers. Arrabona Red is a dwarf variety, reaching just 16 inches in height. This breed of the celosia plant is perfect for climates that experience droughts or extreme hot weather.

King Coral Cockscomb

Said to look like brain matter or, more correctly, deep-sea coral, this version of cockscomb celosia is a sight to behold. The flowerheads of the King Coral Cockscomb are truly gigantic and can easily bring a pop of colour to your garden with a rich purple-red colour.

Forest Fire

One of the lovely wheat celosia variants, the Forest Fire celosia seems to take features from both standard wheat celosia and plume celosia. The flowers are slightly more fanned out than the average wheat celosia and start further down the stem in a burst of fire-red.

The best plants to grow alongside Celosia

The perfect celosia companions can pad out your garden without overpowering the soft or vivid colours of your chosen celosia breeds.

Celosia grows well with a range of other annual flowers, which gives gardeners a lot of choice when deciding the layout of their flower beds.

Because of their similar colourations, dahlia flowers can look beautiful alongside celosia. Together, they can create either a soft, autumn-toned bouquet, or a striking contrast of vivid blooms.

When searching for a flower that won’t overpower your celosia plants, try sprinkling the same bed with zinnia. Orange and yellow zinnia have a golden flush to them when planted unsparingly, and they make the perfect flower to separate an abundance of celosia in a richer colour.

Beautiful zinnia flowers alongside celosia
Celosia partnered with zinnia for a winning combination.

For similar reasons, try planting some marigold with your celosia instead of zinnia. While zinnia and celosia are contrasting and bright, marigold adds a softer backdrop to the deep tones of many celosia variants.

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