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Cosmos Flowers are often called Love Flowers, but from the word 'Cosmos', as you would expect, they mean order, harmony and beauty in the Universe. They are not known for their perfume but they use their colour to attract pollinators.
There's just something delightful about a whole bunch of them let loose in a garden or meadow. Singly they don't look that impressive, although their petals are very orderly (like the Cosmos they represent), but seeing a whole lot together just does something to me. They are beautiful subjects to paint.
Although Cosmos are annuals, once they flower you may never have to plant any more because they self-seed very readily. They are a sheer delight in any garden, coming in pink, white, red and yellow and even orange varieties. The Cosmos flower is similar to the Anemone in that the stems are tall with a single flower at the top. Cosmos plants will brighten your garden wherever they can be fitted in. They are half hardy annuals which means you can plant them in autumn, but they will need covering during the winter cold unlike Snapdragons, which are hardy annuals and can be planted in autumn, or even winter, without needing a cover.
These amazing flowers belong to the Asteraceae (Asters and Daisies) family. They are known as Composite Flowers. If you look at a single flower, you can see that it shares the same reproductive structure typical of all the members of this family: the specialized type of flower head called a Capitulum. If you pull this flower apart and look for the stigma, the style and the ovary in the centre where they are ususally found, you won't find them.
Read about their amazing secret on the Daisy Flower page. It's an eye opener. This family really wants to reproduce. And they do - by the thousands. There are over 23,000 members of the Asteraceae family including the Chrysanthemum, the English Daisy, the Sunflower, the Coneflower and so many others which we all know and love. Each individual flower is capable of producing hundreds, if not thousands, of seeds!
Cosmos are Annuals if grown by seed, but there are Perennial types which not only have seeds but also have rhizomatous bulbs growing underground, giving them two methods of reproducing. They will survive the winter underground, but will need dividing when they have finished flowering so that the root space does not become too crowded. Amazon has cheap Cosmos seeds, as well as pictures of the modern types of Cosmos available today, including a Chocolate and a Black.
Cosmos plants are very hardy and are relatively disease free. They will bloom for a long period, from early spring right through to autumn and they attract butterflies, especially the Monarch Butterfly. Some types will grow to 6 feet tall and look wonderful in the back row. If not protected, like in a corner, these will need light staking. They are excellent to cut and put in a vase and have been the subject of many paintings about country gardens.
If you grow Cosmos from seed they will be up and flowering within 8 to 12 weeks. The blooms will be 3 inches or more across, depending on the type. They come in tall - to 6 feet, medium to about 3 feet and dwarf from only 1 foot to 3 feet. They may grow from 12 inches to 18 inches across. They really fill out the gaps in and around your perennials and are a perfect country or cottage garden flower. Some types actually do grow to 7 or 8 feet.
Cosmos don't like being fussed over. They like to do their own thing. So hold back on the fertilizer. When in doubt ... don't. And just like roses, they don't like wet feet. Just make sure they have well drained soil and an occasional watering - once or twice a week should be enough. In fact, just about all members of the Daisy family can handle heat and dry conditions really well. That's why you will see Daisies flourishing after a drought. But they are certainly not classed as a drought hardy plant like the succulents.