Celosia cristata (the cockscomb) is not as often or generally seen as its striking and novel appearance deserves. It is seldom seen in our greenhouses, perhaps because when at its best the glass structure is a hot, sweltering place, August and September being its usual time of flowering. Our hot summers suit the cockscomb as it does all of the celosias, for they like heat. Last year we saw a large oval bed, the surface of which was covered with Tom Thumb sweet alyssum, and every two feet was dotted a cockscomb. It was a " pin cushion" bed, and very striking and pleasing it was.
When to be used as a bedding plant, sow seed of this celosia in March, and as soon as the little plants can be handled transplant into flats one inch apart. when still larger they should be shifted into 3-inch pots, from which they can be bedded out.
If grown as a pot plant, shift from the 3-inch to a 5-inch pot, which is as large as they should have, or a 6-inch at most. In growing a specimen in a pot, the prime object is to get a fine, broad head on a very dwarf plant, and it is almost impossible to attain perfection unless they are grown in hotbeds, with their heads near the glass. When the heat of the bed is entirely gone, shift and remove to a fresh one. They like heat at the roots as well as at the top. When growing freely, and particularly when forming their immense "combs," they must never be stunted from lack of water; and from the time they are in 3-inch pots, to insure a more even moisture at the roots the pots should be plunged. They want little shade, and that not till the end of May; then it should be only during the hottest hours of the day. Their successful culture can be summed up thus: A very rich soil, abundance of water; perfect light, and a warm, humid atmosphere.
Few insects trouble them. If aphis appears, manage to give them a mild smoking, even if they are in a frame. A cockscomb poorly grown is a very commonplace plant, but when done to perfection it is a wonder.
Besides C. cristata there are other celosias that are very handsome for the mixed border. In Europe they are grown for indoor decoration in pots, but here our summers suit them finely out of doors. They can be planted out in the border after all danger of frost has passed.
Celosia pyramidalis makes a fine plant. It grows eighteen inches to two feet high and should not be planted closer than fifteen inches apart.
C. Huttonii has very beautiful red spikes of flowers and crimson foliage. It is worth lifting and growing in pots.