By Jessie Clark, Master Gardener
Do you enjoy fresh cut flowers from your garden? Give cosmos a try this year. Cosmos are prolific bloomers that come in several varieties, ranging from fluted, tubular petals to double-flowered beauties. Some look as quaint as daisies. Native to Mexico and South America, these summer bloomers are touted to be the best annual for hot, dry locations and even thrive in poor soil. Some grow as tall as seven feet, while other dwarf varieties remain knee height. Cosmos attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies.
To begin, identify which variety of cosmo you’d like to grow and secure the seeds. The cosmos sulphureus species is an excellent one to start with for first-timers and highly recommended on the Permian Basin Master Gardener plant list. These are yellow, orange, or red with narrow lobes and long leaves. The cosmos bipinnatus species will range from white to all shades of pink and have more fine, capillaceous leaves. My personal favorites are the seashells mix and versailles mix.
Sow your seeds indoors in March and then transplant to a full sun area of your garden in April, after the last danger of frost. Cosmo seeds can also be directly sown after last frost. For avid cut flower gardeners, sow monthly to enjoy color all season long. Skip the fertilizer. Limited in space? Even a container will do. Pinch for best results.
With cosmos, the more you harvest the more they bloom! Snip regularly, cutting cosmos as the buds first begin to open. Cosmos are excellent in arrangements as focal flowers or in a supporting role. Pair with mint and roses for a dynamite mason jar bouquet. Arrange with different varieties of cosmos for a centerpiece that dazzles. Their optimal vase life is 5-7 days. Flower food or a pinch of sugar will help to extend vase life. Cosmos also make for excellent dried flowers, such as pressed art, potpourri, or for some added interest in a bouquet.