Even if you only have a tiny garden – or just some pots – you have to grow at least one cosmos. They are the lowest maintenance, floweriest plants in the world.
The seeds are long and thin, so can be easily handled, and can be planted into modules or jiffys. Sow under cover March-April at about 3mm deep in good compost. Water in well and place in a greenhouse or warm windowsill to help germination.
In the garden
Plant out after the risk of frost has past, plant out in your garden into soil that has been improved with manure or garden compost. Pinch out the growing tip of each stem when transplanting to encourage stems to branch and produce more cosmos flowers. Plant the cosmos in full sun and water well, then add a mulch to help conserve moisture. Stake and tie plants if necessary during the growing season and don’t forget to water regularly.
The shorter varities e.g. Cosmos Sonata and Antiquity are perfect for pots. Plant the seedlings 10in apart, keep them well watered and they'll be in flower by early July and, if deadheaded, flower reliably until October.
Cosmos will flower till the first frosts if you regularly dead head and feed the plants. When dead-heading cosmos the trick is to cut the stem right back to the first leaf below, rather than just taking the flower head off (see Sarah's video for a close-up guide on how to do this).
Last 7-10 days, no conditioning needed. Pick fresh straight into water, just as the buds are about to bloom, and do not pick in the heat of the day. Deadhead the main blooms that are drooping and going over after about a week. Place out of direct sunlight.
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