Celosia Celosia argentea

Commonly known as cockscomb or silver cock’s comb, Celosia is a plant of tropical origin and is known for its vibrant, bright colors and unique shapes.

“There were sunflowers big as flowers on Mars, and thick cockscombs bleeding the deep red fringe of theater curtains. ”

— Lela Seely

The Meaning of Celosia

Super unique in appearance, it’s no surprise this wondrous bloom comes with many unique meanings to boot. 

Love & Affection: In many cultures, cockscomb or “celosia” are believed to have a magical power of love. In western Africa, they’re often referred to as soko yokoto which means the food that makes husband’s face rosy. *blushes*

This flower blooms from summer to autumn, remaining vibrant even as the landscape around them fades away—giving them the symbol of unfading love! Even as everything else is turning dull and dreary, celosia remains bright and colorful.  

Silliness & Foppery: Due to their unusual, exotic look—cockscomb is often associated with silliness. 

Singularity & Partnership: Say what!? Yes, a paradox! Celosia is a clear standout in every garden, but can also pair wonderfully with other companion plants. Giving it the symbol of both singularity and partnership! 

Strength & Immortality: Celosia remains strong and beautiful even during intense storms. Their strength reigns clear and true after a stiff wind just as they do during intense sunlight. They’re hardy, they’re resilient, and they can weather any storm! 

Courage: Their bold appearance makes them the perfect flower to gift one in need of a little courage. [1] 

The History of Celosia

It is unknown where exactly celosia originated from, although many speculate the dry slopes of Africa and India as well as the dry, stony regions of both North and South America. Nonetheless, they have been grown in North America since the 18th century! [2]

Their exotic beauty aside, these blooms have great medicinal value as well, and have been cultivated as a veggie throughout history. 

They have also made an appearance in many superstitions and beliefs of magic. It is said that dreaming of celosia is a good omen, particularly in pregnant women, as it’s a sign they are having a daughter. (We suppose this could be viewed as a good or a not-so-good omen depending on which gender you’re hoping for!). When a man dreams of this bloom, he will likely attract prosperity and abundance, and when a single woman dreams of celosia, it is believed that her true love is on the way! 

Celosia also has a firm history in religious ceremonies throughout time. In ancient religions, the flame-like flowers of celosia were used in many worship rituals and mourning services. In today’s world, they are used in Mexican churches as altar decor, shrines, and graves—especially during the Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebrations. The vibrant, colorful hues of the celosia are believed to keep the occasion joyous and cheerful. 

As we’ve mentioned, celosia is also well known for its medicinal and nutritional value including, iron, protein, calcium, vitamin A & C, and phosphorous. Its leaves have also been used as a poultice for sores and boils while its seeds can be used for alleviating bowel issues. Some parts of the plant have also been used to treat eye diseases, intestinal worms, mouth sores, and even blood diseases. [1]

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DID YOU KNOW?

Celosia Fun Fact

The leaves of celosia have a similar taste to spinach. [4]

How to Grow Celosia

There are tons of different varieties of celosia, but most are bedding types—meaning they’re usually planted for visual appeal. 

These un-fussy plants are super easy to grow once you get them in the ground. 

Growing Tips:

  • Plant in full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day)
  • Well-draining, nutrient-rich soil goes a long way in keeping your celosia growing strong
  • Use a liquid plant food every 2 weeks, especially if the weather has been particularly hot or rainy—lots of rain can wash away nutrients, and temperatures above 95 degrees F can slow plant growth. 
  • Stake taller varieties, especially those with heavier blooms 

Deadheading:

  • Although celosia can last up to a month, they still need deadheading to seed new blooms along.
  • Flowers will start to fade from the bottom of the plant to the top, so when the bottom third to half is done, remove it at the joint of the leaf. This will encourage side stems to take off quickly, and your plants won’t waste their energy on producing seed. [3]
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DID YOU KNOW?

Celosia Fun Fact

Celosia are easy to grow just about anywhere, and are generally resistant to disease and pests. [4]

How to Care for Celosia

Alright, and now onto how you should care for your freshly cut celosia.

  • Harvest your celosia when their blooms are fully mature—they should last for weeks in a vase!
  • Use a floral preservative and change the water frequently to avoid rotting stems. 

Tips for Drying Celosia:

  • Harvest your mature blooms that have not set seed yet in the morning after the dew has dried. 
  • Cut the longest stem you can and put it in a bucket of water until you get inside
  • Bundle 6-8 stems together with a rubber band and hang them upside down in a warm, dry location like an attic or shed to keep stems straight
  • Position the flowers at different levels in the bunch so air can circulate and the blooms aren’t damaged
  • Keep out of direct light to help preserve their color
  • Space far enough apart to allow good air circulation and avoid mold growth [3]
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When to Give Celosia as a Gift

In some cultures, celosia is the traditional flower given during Labor Day and brought to football parties due to its festive feather-like appearance. Give celosia as a symbol of affection and silliness, or to someone with whom you’ve shared lots of love & laughs! [1]

References:

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