by Adam Pasco

Cosmos was one of the first bedding plants I ever grew from seed, and still remains a favourite. It provides height to displays with an airiness few other plants can match...

Pink cosmos flowerCosmos was one of the first bedding plants I ever grew from seed, and still remains a favourite. It provides height to displays with an airiness few other plants can match. Tall stems carry fine, feathery foliage, each topped with simple, brightly coloured flowers, usually with a brilliant boss of yellow stamens at the centre. 

While many bedding plants remain dwarf and compact cosmos grows taller, swaying above them on the breeze. Seeds are cheap, and these tender summer bedding plants are always reliable, putting on a show right through summer until the first frosts. 

I love all cosmos, but some varieties hit the spot more than others. The dwarf Sonata Series  has striking flowers, but the short, compact stems and stocky stature don't have as much character, to my mind, as the taller varieties. 

Plant breeders have had fun with cosmos in recent years, and while those with simple daisy-like flowers are beautiful, something interesting happens when petals turn into tubes, like this on 'Sea Shells'. I've seen some really exciting varieties in commercial seed trials, like the flower, pictured above, that isn't yet available to buy. However, similar cosmos are on sale, such as the double and semi-double flowers on Cosmos 'Double Click'. It grows to 120cm, and is offered in a range of colours. 

New for 2010 is the pure white 'Double Click Snow Puff', which has been approved as a new novelty variety by Fleuroselect (a European variety trial organisation looking for the best new bedding plants). 

Many cosmos come in colourful mixtures, but I love growing varieties in a single colour. 'Candy Stripe' has white flowers with a pink, picotee edge, while bicoloured 'Daydream' has a deeper rose-pink centre, fading to white at the edges. For reds try 'Pied Piper Red' or the new 'Rubenza', another Fleuroselect novelty variety. Pink is a popular cosmos colour, and for a striking display try slate-pink 'Versailles Tetra' or apple blossom-pink 'Sweet Sixteen'. 

Sometimes there's just too much colour around, and a fresh breath of pure white dancing at the tips of tall green stems produces a welcome oasis through summer. Firm favourites include cosmos 'Psyche White' and 'Purity', both offering restful simplicity. And that's what cosmos does best - simplicity. Nothing fussy … just pure pleasure.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Cosmos
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 21/09/2009 at 17:02

This isn't about Cosmos, but reminded me of the first plants I tried to grow from seed, aged about 5 or 6 I guess. Lavatera (great success), cornflowers (brilliant success) and aquilegia (total fail), and I can still remember the disappointment of that now!

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2009 at 07:55

I have grown cosmos for about the last three years and they have always made a great display. I've grown both the tall & dwarf varieties and think they're a great annual flower. This years display hasn't done so well though!.

Gardeners' World Web User 22/09/2009 at 08:32

Cosmos. One of my favourites. Last for ages, and are much appreciated by the bees!

Gardeners' World Web User 23/09/2009 at 11:14

sorry this has nothing to do with cosmos, but i havent seen much of this mentioned in any of the blogs, i have been plagued and most of us have on our allotment site with catepillars, this year, i even reluctantly sprayed but to no avail they are still eating away.. i think for next year i will use nemotodes can anyone recommend them ?

Gardeners' World Web User 24/09/2009 at 13:04

I love Cosmos.. it's always a bit disappointing until mid-August, but then it starts flowering its socks off. My favourite is Candy Stripe, but I may have to try some of t'others you've recommended.

See more comments...