Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cosmos bipinnatus

I loved growing cosmos when I was growing up. In elementary school our only fundraiser was selling seeds each spring. You got a box with one packet each of lots of flowers and radishes and lettuce. We always just bought the whole thing since my mother and grandfather both loved to garden and I was always the helper. The photo above is what most, if not all, of the cosmos looked like. I know the fashion now is to grow perennials, but my big gripe with them is that even though they will come back year after year, the bloom season for most of them is fairly short, measured in weeks rather than in months. This time of year when the garden is starting to get a little ratty looking, my annuals are still gorgeous.
Now, annuals can be expensive if you're buying those pricey ones at your local big box store in gallon pots, but seeds are relatively cheap, at least compared to those fancy gallon pots. Of course they can't beat the price of those 10 cent packets I sold back in the 1950s.
This year's packet of cosmos was an assortment. All seem to be fairly tall plants, some are taller than I am with stout stems that don't seem to be bothered by rain or wind. This sort of semi-double is a much darker shade than I usually see.
And this one was a total surprise. I don't think I've ever had a double cosmos before.

These I have had, thought, and my assortment has a lot if large white single blooms.

This red shade is also new. It's not the same as the magenta I'm used to; much more of a true red.

This last type is sold, I think, as 'Seashells'. It's different, but I think I like the old-fashioned ones better.
Cosmos are native to Mexico and are sometimes called Mexican Asters. They like full sun and are fairly drought tolerant once they're up and growing. They will frequently self seed, though the only ones from last year that came back were orange ones that are a totally different type.
Butterflies, especially monarchs, are quite fond of cosmos.

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