Growing Celosia From Seed

Celosia is a diverse and beautiful genus of plants within the amaranth family. The name Celosia is derived from the Greek word meaning “burning.” If you have ever seen these flame-like flowers showing off their colorful blooms, you’ll see how appropriate this name is.

Celosia will flower in 90-100 days from planting. So, if you start your seeds indoors in March, you should have showy blooms by midsummer that will last through the fall.

There are three main types of Celosia

  • Crest type – large, heavy blooms that grow on plants up to 36 inches tall. The blooms are colorful, large, and resemble a brain.
  • Plume type – feathery blooms that grow on plants up to 24 inches tall. These blooms are popular for dried flowers.
  • Wheat type – flower stalks are spiky and resemble grain crops, growing on plants 12-36 inches in height. Less options for color than other types.
Celosia types

Step 1: Start Celosia Seeds

  • Sow indoors in preferred seed starting/potting mix 6-8 weeks before plants will go outside. (Transplanting is safe when soil temperatures are at least 55°F and outdoor temperatures do not drop below 60°F).
  • Sow 1/8″ deep, being careful with the seeds as they are especially tiny and delicate.
  • Seeds germinate within 7-10 days with an idea temperature of 70-80°F. Keep the soil moist for optimal germination.
  • Light is not required for germination, but seedlings should be placed under light as soon as they emerge.

Tip: Celosia seedlings are very vulnerable to damping-off. Keep this in mind as you care for your seedlings, allowing them to dry out slightly between waterings.

Step 2: Transplant Outdoors

Seedlings transplanted outdoors

Whether you are growing Celosia from seeds or have purchased flats at your local nursery, you will need to transplant the seedlings outdoors.

  • Try not to let Celosia become root bound. If you are shopping at a nursery, check the roots of each plant to ensure they are not wrapped around the edges of the pot. Roots should not be emerging from the drainage holes.
  • Harden off young seedlings for 1-2 weeks before permanently establishing outdoors.
  • Transplant outdoors when temperatures are at least 65°F, and definitely not below 60°F.
  • Spacing will depend on the variety chosen. Generally speaking, 20″ is a good rule of thumb for spacing Celosia plants. Some wheat types may require more room and should be spaced 24″-36″ inches. The closer the spacing of your plants, the smaller the final flower size will be.

Tip: You can grow Celosia in containers, but they do better in garden beds. If you’d like to grow Celosia in a container, be sure you are growing a shorter variety, or using a large pot.

Step 3: Provide Ideal Growing Conditions

Pink celosia

To grow the most vibrant and beautiful flowers, you’ll want to provide the plants with their ideal growing conditions.

  • Sunlight: Celosia prefer full-sun and grow best with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  • Soil: These plants prefer soil that is rich in organic matter and well-draining. Consider adding compost to the planting site.
  • Watering: Avoid overwatering Celosia. They can tolerate drought conditions better than other plants, but are more susceptible to issues when overwatered.
  • Temperature: Celosia is very heat tolerant and will fare well in the hot days of summer. They will not do well in the cold, so ensure temperatures are at least 65°F before bringing them outdoors. I highly recommend a hardening off period to avoid burnt leaves.

Pests and Diseases

Sometimes, aphids can take a liking to your Celosias and cause some damage. Plant a diverse garden with many flowers to attract beneficial insects and natural predators.

Celosia are prone to damping off and leaf spot. When watering your plants, try to avoid splattering the leaves with water from overhead. Make sure the plants are in well-draining soil that will not become waterlogged.

When to harvest flowers

Celosia with red flowers

If you choose to harvest your Celosia flowers for fresh or dried arrangements, you can do so when the flowers are about half open. Celosia is very delicate when dried but the colors hold up well.

For crested Celosia, I like to harvest when the center of the head is expanded but before outer edges are discolored. Always cut flowers when temperatures are cool and clean your shears between harvests.

I hope this guide helps you learn how to grow Celosia from seed. If you grow this flower in your garden, let me know your favorite variety and color to grow! They’re a great choice for fresh and dried arrangements, and they add an abundance of color to the flower garden.

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