|Pic courtesy Expo 2016 Antalya|
Celosia cristata [Celosia in Greek means burning] is a member of the genus Celosia, and is commonly known as cockscomb, since the flower looks like the head on a rooster (cock). It is called Chi Kuan in China. The plants are hardy and resistant to most diseases, and grow equally well indoors or out, though the perfect place is one with no shade and a well drained soil, as the plant is susceptible to fungal diseases. The plant is used frequently as an ornamental plant indoors. Their leaves and flowers can be used as vegetables. They are often grown as foods in India, Western Africa, and South America.
They are annual plants of tropical origin and are herbaceous meaning they lack a woody stem. They grow well in both humid and arid conditions, and their flowers can last for up to 8 weeks. A high number of seeds can be produced by each flower, up to 43,000 per ounce. The plant often grows up to 1 foot in height, though many are smaller. The leaves are either green or bronze/maroon, depending upon the cultivar. The flower can be broken into three parts: their spikes, plumes and crests vary from one another but have standard commonalities - they are usually brightly colored, usually red, yellow, pink, or orange, though other colors can be present. In some instances, a variety of colors are present in hybrids.
The plants are hardy and can be grown easily from the seeds. Since the plants are of tropic origin, they thrive in areas with tropical climate. However, they can also be grown in summer months in the colder climate. The plants being annual plants, grow for only about one fourth of a year. A soil temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for growth. The plants are relatively easy to grow and care for having few insects that feed on them. Mites though are known to feed on the plants. The plants are also susceptible to leaf spotting, root rot and root strangulation. However the former two can be prevented by avoiding a damp soil and the latter by frequent weeding. Also wetting the leaf and flowers should be avoided as they can lead to fungal diseases.
Cultivars include 'Jewel box', 'Century mix', 'New Look', and 'Pink Castle'.