Scientific: Celosia argentea (most cultivated celosia are a complex hybrids arranged into groups)
Common: cockscomb, Chinese wool flower, feathery amaranth
Family: Amaranthaceae
Origin: Native to tropical American and Africa, naturalized pan-tropically. Exact native location is unknown.

Pronounciation: Ce-LOW-see-a ar-GEN-tee-a

Hardiness zones

Landscape Use: Mass border and edging plants and/or container plants for warmer times of year in Phoenix. To achieve a mass effect, plant individual plants about 6 to 8 inches apart. Also, used as fresh or dried cut flowers.

Form & Character: Short, spiky, terse, bold and multi-colorful. A diminutive perennial treated as a summer annual in Phoenix landscapes.

Growth Habit: Medium growth rate that ultimately is cultivar dependent as to final height to 6 to 30 inches tall.

Foliage/Texture: Deep green, small, linear to lanceolate-ovate leaves, 1 to 4 inches long, alternate; medium texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers in dense terminal clusters, mostly as a dense chaffy spike; fruit inconspicuous.

Seasonal Color: Flowers anytime during the warm season in colors ranging from yellow to dark crimson.  

Temperature: Best in the 70o to 105oF range, frost sensitive.

Light: Full sun to partial shade. Avoid western exposures.

Soil: Landscape soils for celosia MUST be well-drained, fertile, and have a high organic content. In sandy and/or infertile soils, leaf clorosis is common.

Watering: Regular and frequent, drought intolerant in desert landscape gardens

Pruning: None, except to remove spent flowers.

Propagation: Seed which germinate in five days, cutting.

Disease and pests: Red spider mites, white fly, powdery mildew and botrytis on flowers.

Additional comments: Cultivated celosias are mostly polyploid and cultivated hybrids. The genus Celosia contains about 60 known species native to tropical regions around the world. Celosia are best used in landscapes when massed together.

Cultivated celosia groups include:
The Plumosa group of cultivars (sometimes sold as Celosia 'Plumosa') have feathery plume-like flower heads, 4 to 10 inches tall that look a little like tiny Christmas trees. 'Apricot Brandy' is freely branched cultivar to 20 inches tall with orange flower heads. 'Forest Fire' is a cultivar with maroon leaves and bright scarlet flower heads. 'New Look' has purplish leaves and crimson flower heads. 'Kimono Series' cultivars are small to 8 inches tall with flower heads in rose, pink, creamy white and red.

The Cristata group of cultivars have compact rounded, crested or fan-shaped flower heads with bizarre convoluted ridges. The flower heads are 3 to 12 inches across and look a little like velvety brains, cauliflower heads or roosters' combs. 'Big Chief Mix' is a tall cultivar to 3 feet in height with cauliflower-shaped flower heads to 6 inches in diameter. In contrast, 'Jewel Box Mix' is very small cultivar to 8 inches tall with bronzy leaves and flower heads that are hot, bright colors including yellow, pink, salmon, gold and red; the flower heads are fan-shaped, like a rooster's comb. Celosia argenta var. cristata is a bizarre, tetraploid cultigen.

The Childsii group of cultivars includes cultivars with rounded flower heads that look like twisted and tangled balls of yarn.

The Spicata group (often classified as a distinct species, C. spicata) includes cultivars with slender, cylindrical pink or rose flower heads which have a metallic sheen because the individual flowers are silvery-white at their bases. 'Flaming Series' cultivars are typical of this group.