The coming of cosmos
Amateur Gardening|May 08, 2021
Warmer temperatures, new varieties and the greater accessibility of plugs have made comos a must-have plant for gardens this summer, says Graham Rice
Graham Rice

SOMETIMES, the moment is right.Everything comes together and a plant just catches the imagination. This is the time of the cosmos, as a number of factors are combining to grab the attention of more and more gardeners.

First, we always used to treat cosmos as half-hardy annuals and sow the seed in a propagator in March or April for planting out in June. But as our summers have crept forward and the soil has been warming up earlier and earlier, we can now sow cosmos seeds outside in the open garden with confidence. And you can sow them today.

Second, new types have been developed in recent years taking us beyond the elegant simplicity of single flowers to a range of doubles and other types, including the captivating cupped varieties – all set against fresh-green feathery foliage.

Many more individual colours are available than there used to be, so you can choose precisely the shade you need for a particular situation in the garden or to match your taste in homegrown bouquets. And some of the new colours, such as the beautiful new peachy ‘Apricotta’ – well, there’s never been anything like it.

Cosmos for cutting

We also have the first cosmos variety developed specifically for cutting, and there are now varieties ranging in height from 8in (20cm) to 5ft (1.5m) to suit every situation.

And then there’s the odd one out, the fabled and always enjoyed chocolate cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguineus. Chocolate coloured and chocolate scented, it comes with roots like slender dahlia tubers that will survive the winter outside in many areas if mulched deeply. There’s also a group with sparky, fiery little flowers.

Another recent innovation has been the availability of young plants, often in large, garden-ready plugs. No longer do we have to deal with 20 or 30 seedlings, as we can now order just five ready-toplant young plants, perfect for a prolific clump among the roses.

So if you’ve never grown cosmos before, now’s the time to give them a try. And if you have, the new varieties will surely give you a thrill.

Where to buy*

Chiltern Seeds chilternseeds.co.uk 01491 824675

Mr Fothergill’s mr-fothergills.co.uk 0333 777 3936

Plants of Distinction plantsofdistinction.co.uk 01449 721720

Thompson & Morgan thompson-morgan.com 0333 400 0033

*Many nurseries are currently unable to send out plants – or despatch may be delayed.

Single

The traditional yellow-eyed daisy form with a bright eye ringed in petals. Available in single colours, mixes and interesting two-colour blends such as ‘Xanthos & Rubinato Mixed’ (pictured) in primrose yellow and deep rose pink. H: 2ft (60cm).

Double

Almost fully double frilly flowers, with the eye tucked away in the centre. Look for ‘Double BonBon’ and ‘Double Click’ (pictured) in blends and separate colours. Don’t overfeed, the heavy flowers may bend the stems. H: 3ft (90cm).

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