Cosmos is a genus of about 20 species of annual and perennial plants belonging to the Asteraceae family. These plants are native to Central and South America but are now grown worldwide.
One of the most striking features of Cosmos is its leaves. They are typically pinnate, with narrow, feathery leaflets that give the plant a light and airy appearance. The leaves are arranged in alternately along the stem and are often a vibrant green color. Some species of Cosmos also have deeply lobed leaves, giving them a unique and intricate appearance.
However, it is the flowers of Cosmos that truly steal the show. The flowers are borne on long, slender stems that can grow up to 3 feet in height and are available in a wide range of colors, including white, pink, red, orange, and yellow. The flowers have a central disk surrounded by ray flowers, which can be either single or double. The flowers typically bloom in mid to late summer and can continue blooming well into fall.
Cosmos is relatively easy to grow, making it a popular choice for home gardeners. These plants prefer full sun and well-draining soil but can tolerate sandy, loamy, and clay soils. They require regular watering, especially during hot and dry weather but are relatively drought-tolerant once established. Cosmos thrives in warm weather and cannot tolerate frost. Therefore, it is best to plant them after the last frost date in your area.
One common use for Cosmos is as a border plant, as the tall stems and vibrant flowers can create a striking border for a garden bed. They are also commonly used in cottage gardens, where their light and airy appearance can create a whimsical and romantic atmosphere. In addition, Cosmos attracts various beneficial insects, such as bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. It is also deer resistant, making it a good choice for gardens frequented by deer.
In terms of specific cultivars, there are many different types of Cosmos to choose from. Some popular varieties include the pink and white Candy Stripe Cosmos, the vibrant orange and yellow Cosmos sulphureus, and the delicate and elegant Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’, which features pure white flowers. There are also dwarf cultivars available, such as Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sonata,’ a compact plant perfect for container gardening or use in small garden spaces.