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Plant of the Week: Cosmos

Cosmos is a sun-loving annual.
Cosmos is a sun-loving annual.
Shawna Kennedy

Cosmos is one of those rare plants that thrives under adverse conditions and blooms under the harshest summer sun.  It's a go-to plant and this week's plant of the week.

Cosmos originated in South and Central America. Spanish priests grew this annual flower in their gardens in Mexico. Cosmos grows to 7 feet tall with large showy flowers and delicate fern-like foliage.

The most common variety of cosmos blooms in shades of white pink and red, but there are many new cultivars on the market today, both in single and double blooms. Candy Stripe cosmos has pink petals edged with fuchsia. "Day Dream" is a variety of cosmos with pale pink petals with a base of deep pink, almost red. "Seashell cosmos has petals that are shaped like tubes and then there is Psycho White cosmos with frilled double flowers and many more.

Cosmos takes full sun and, although it will grow in a wide range of conditions, well-drained soil. Don't over-water this plant. Cosmos prefers slightly dry soil between watering. This annual is easily grown from a seed, and widely available, although the newer cultivars will have to be ordered from a catalog.

Plant them in spring for early summer flowers and in June for late summer to frost flowers. These plants will self-seed so you might get the second blooming without any effort. Cosmos makes great cut flowers, lasting up to 10 days in the vase. Cosmos is drought-tolerant, sun-tolerant and a consistent performer. What more could you ask?