Updated/Fact-Chacked on June 30, 2023 by Gareth James
Celosia is great for adding texture to borders or containers; I’ve just fallen in love with them after my local nursery had a batch. Like astilbe, they have feather-like flowers but are generally lower-growing. This is why they are commonly called ‘wool flowers’.
Celosia is one of the few plants that can be grown indoors or outdoors in the UK. In this article, I will specifically talk about growing them outdoors in a UK climate.
Celosia is a genus of flowering plants within the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. The plants are native to the broad geographical expanse of Africa, North and South America, and Asia.
The name “Celosia” comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘kēleos’, which translates to “burning,” a nod to the bright, fiery colours of the flowers in many species of this genus. Over time, Celosia plants have been selectively bred for desirable traits, leading to various cultivars with different flower shapes and colours.
Celosia comes in two main varieties: celosia argentea (common name: Celosia plumosa) and Celosia cristata (common name: cockscomb). Within these groups, there are a lot of different varieties, but many are impossible to buy in the UK. There also seem to be varieties with different common names around the world; ‘Celosia Caracus’ is widely discussed online, but I cannot find the actual Botanical name for this variety anywhere.
Most celosia are grown as annuals in the UK and used in pots or borders. I will experiment with digging mine out of the pot in October and grow it as a house plant indoors over the winter months. I’ve made a mental note to return to this article next spring and update readers on whether it survived being moved indoors.
Below are some of the best varieties to grow in the UK (outside):
Celosia argentea ‘Flamingo Feather’ (Spicata Group)
Height: 50-80 acm
Spread: 50 cm
This variety is taller than the more feathery ones and can reach 1 metre in height. This celosia variety likes a sunny position and will flower all summer until the weather turns cold. Its hardiness rating is H2, meaning it will not survive below 5 degrees.
Celosia ‘Dragons Breath’
I’ve just ordered a few of this celosia as I adore plants that produce vibrant flowers with dark foliage.
Celosia ‘DeepPurple’ (Celosia Caracus)
Height: 40 cm
This is the common celosia often sold as a house plant. This variety flowers from June to September and likes a full sun position.
Celosia argentea var. cristata
This unusual variety is tricky to find as plug plants, but you can buy them as seeds. The problem is finding this exact variety; many online sellers have the wrong variety listed if you search ‘buy celosia argentea var. cristata’ in Google UK.
Celosia Planing Companions
I saw this pot on Gardeners World and love it – it’s made of Purple Celosia, exotic-looking canna and pink cosmos. I am going to replicate this pot with a few white cosmos too.
Do Celosia Caracas come back every year?
Celosia Caracas, like other members of the Celosia genus, is generally considered an annual plant. This means it completes its life cycle in one growing season, typically from spring to autumn. It does not naturally come back every year in climates with cold winters. However, in tropical and subtropical regions where the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing, Celosia Caracas can behave like a perennial and come back year after year.
Is Celosia Caracas an indoor or outdoor plant?
Celosia Caracas can be grown both indoors and outdoors. When grown outdoors, they prefer sunny locations and well-draining soil. Indoors, they need plenty of light – a sunny windowsill would be ideal. Care must be taken not to overwater these plants as they are susceptible to root rot.
Can you grow Celosia in the UK?
Yes, you can grow Celosia in the UK. However, as they are not frost-hardy plants, they are usually grown as summer annuals. You can start seeds indoors early in the spring, and then transplant the young plants outside after the last expected frost date.
Are Celosia winter hardy in the UK?
No, Celosia plants, including Celosia Caracas, are not winter hardy in the UK. They are tropical plants and cannot survive the frost and cold temperatures typical of UK winters. They can be grown during the warmer months, but if you wish to keep them through the winter, you will need to bring them indoors or grow them in a heated greenhouse.
How long does a Celosia live?
As annuals, Celosia plants, including Celosia Caracas, typically live for one growing season. In the UK, this is usually from spring when they are planted to the first frosts of autumn when they die. However, in their native tropical and subtropical climates, Celosia may live for a few years if conditions are right, behaving more like perennials.
Gareth is the owner of Plantsman Media. Gareth lives in the North East of England and is obsessed with flowers. He has just started RHS level 2 certification.