Saturday, July 4, 2009

An Orderly Harmonious System

A cosmos description in Webster's dictionary is "the universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system." Drop down a couple of lines and it's "any composite plant of the genus Cosmos, of tropical America, cultivated for their showy flowers."

Both pretty much describe the herbaceous perennial grown as annual in Zone 5. It's from the Asteraceae family and includes sunflowers, daisies, marigolds and asters.

As might be expected, the name of this flower is derived from the Greek word meaning "balanced universe." The flower is very balanced in it's symmetry of form. From Mexico, it was named by Spanish priests who grew the flower in the mission gardens.

The cosmos we use in our summer gardens may be singles or doubles, dwarf or up to 6 ft. tall. Some have beautiful fern like foliage. There are several new hybrids that have unusual form and color. Colors are what I call crayon true - meaning they are seldom in subtle shades. They are extremely easy to grow and make great fillers between perennials.

They are among the easiest and quickest seeds to grow or you can buy plant sets. They often self seed if the seeds fall on bare soil.

Chocolate cosmos is fragrant. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong the blooming season. A good pair of kitchen shears make this task quick and easy. Stop deadheading before the last flowers die if you want them to self seed.

Do not over water, over fertilize or over care as this will inhibit flower production. It must be planted in the sun for best flowering results. Too much love and this plant becomes spindly and has very few blooms.

The reason I feature the Cosmos today, is to emphasize a plant that is easy to use. Not only easy, but beautiful and inexpensive. They are typically pest free. They love poor dry conditions. They make great cut flowers. They continue to bloom until frost. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds. They are suitable for drying and pressing.

This year I've planted a pretty little "Cosmic Yellow" and a traditional pink "Gloria Cosmos"; see images.

Bring harmony to the universe - plant a Cosmo!!!

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