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Urban Gardener No_20

Urban Gardener No_20

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Published by: norbyb on May 12, 2010
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03/18/2011

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20th Issue Vol. 3 No. 05 ISSN 2094-1765 May 2010
Growing the Colorful Cosmos Plant
by Norberto R. Bautista
One of the most popular and easyto grow annual flowering plant isthe Cosmos, a plant genus of about 20–26 species of herbaceous annual and perennialplants in the family Asteraceae.Sunflowers, Daisies and Astersalso belong to this large plantfamily. The Cosmos is native tograsslands and meadow areas of Mexico, where the bulk of thespecies occur. It is also native inthe southern United States(Arizona, Florida), CentralAmerica and northern SouthAmerica, south to Paraguay.The common hybrids belong tothe group of 
Cosmos sulphureus
.They are herbaceous perennialplants growing about 0.3-2 meterstall. The leaves are simple,pinnate, or bipinnate, andarranged in opposite pairs. Theflowers are produced in acapitulum with a ring of broad rayflorets and a center of disc florets;flower color is very variablebetween the different species.The genus includes severalornamental plants popular ingardens.These plants are popularlygrown as a potted floweringplant, sold in most gardenshows and garden centers,and also as a insect repellantin organic vegetable farms.Cosmos flowers are producedin a capitulum. The capitulumis surrounded by a ring of 
 
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broad ray florets and a center of discflorets. There is a lot of color variation inbetween the species. Cosmos flowers are2-4 inches in diameter. Cosmos flowerscome in brightly colored single or doubleflowers which include white, pink, orange,yellow, and scarlet colors.The word Cosmos is derived from a Greekword, which means “a balanced universe”,maybe a description of its well-balancedflowers. Cosmos flowers blooms heavily,but dies as the plant grows old. NewCosmos plants grow and flower next season when seeds fall on the soil.
Cultural Requirements.Light.
Cosmos prefer a sunny location. Choose a full sun location so that the plant willprovide you a weekly supply of flowers.
Watering.
Water juvenile plants regularly for them to grow fast. Water less when theystarted to flower. Cosmos flower plants are drought tolerant but water Cosmos plantsduring long dry spells. Moderately water once the seedlings grow into mature plants astoo much watering prevents flowering.
 
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Fertilization.
Fertilize plants lightly once every month using ordinary complete fertilizerslike 14-14-14, controlled release fertilizer or garden compost. Do not over-fertilize.Over-fertilizing and over-watering may reduce flower production.
Soil.
The plant prefers a fertile, well drained loamy soil, preferably without an abundanceof clay. A soil rich in organic matter is also ideal. For plants to be sown on pots, use 5-inch pots, use the recommended soil mix and plant the seeds. Water the potting mixtureenough to make the soil moist but not water logged or too wet as it may cause rotting of the seeds.
Pest and Diseases.
Cosmos plants are usually not too much affected by insect pestsas they have a natural chemical in them which repels insects.
Propagation.
Cosmos plants can be propagated through seeds. Pollinated flowersproduce dry seeds, similar to miniature pine needles. The seeds can be air-dried andstored in paper envelopes or planted immediately in the soil. They are easy togerminate (about 7-10 days after sowing) and quickly grow into seedlings. They can bedirectly planted into the soil where they will grow into mature plants or in pots. Spaceplants 12 inches apart. Cosmos plants normally grow to 4-5 feet in a season. Seedlingsmay crowd each other and still thrive with carefree, sprawling growth over the latesummer and after the end of the rainy season. Plants will flower within 8 to 10 weeks of seeding.
Other cultural practices.
Protection plants from too much wind by providing bamboostakes. This will prevent delicate stems frombending or breaking, especially for varietiesthat grow up to 3 feet tall or taller.Deadhead or removed spent flowersregularly, as it keeps cosmos in bloom for many weeks. Cut back dead foliage toprevent incidence of diseases to make plantlook clean.After their growth season, remove or uprootdead plants and pile them aside as compost,as they also help in fertilizing the soil. Sownew seeds or transplant new seedlings for the next batch of plants.Cosmos plants are one of the most easilysold annual plants in garden centers as theyare economical, they are easy to grow, andthey can be used as accents or decorationsin the garden, inside the home or in theoffice.
 Dry Cosmos seeds ready for the picking 

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