Plant of the week: Cosmos bipinnatus has a rather odd name, doesn’t it? When I think of cosmos I think of the universe … How come a worldly pretty flower aquired a name of such astronomical proportions? Cosmos derives from Greek. In addition to referring to the vast space surrounding us, the word, from what I’ve been able ascertain can also mean ornament/decoration. Which brings us to the essence of this bloom, it most certainly is ornamental and decorative.
Cosmea or Mexican aster as it’s also known, derives from Mexico. It’s an annual bloom meaning it will adorn a green space from around late summer until first frost for one year. Seeing cosmos with its vibrant colours blooming as days get darker and the weather more unfortunate is a true joy. It comes in white, pink and red colours. It needs to be propagated by seed sown at 16°C in mid-spring under glass, or in situ in late spring. This plant wants a sunny location, at least six hours of sun a day and tolerates most soil types that are well-draining. If it likes the spot, it will self-seed for a number of years. When fully grown it reaches a height of around 60-120cm
Where I live this plant seems to be very popular to grow in allotments. Other potential areas to prettify are cottage and informal gardens, including wildflower meadows and praire plantings. The dill-like foliage lends itself to these settings in my opinion. If a loose, fluffy even romantic design feel is what you like, they also work in city and courtyard gardens, and as patio and container plants. It’s also an excellent cutting flower.