Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
If you want a good border plant then you should look to the cosmos, writes David Overend.
Cosmos is one of those flowers which always looks lovely, even in November when there’s a shortage of colour to combat the cooler, greyer days of autumn. They arrived in this country more than 200 years ago (from Mexico) and have been big favourites ever since, both for beds and borders and for cutting and bringing indoors.
Cosmos are annuals, grown for their showy blooms. The flowerheads may be bowl or open cup-shaped and sit on top of long stems.
They are easy to grow and make good border or container plants. Apart from making eye-catching flower arrangements, cosmos also attract birds, bees and butterflies to the garden.
As a late-summer bloomer, there are few flowers to beat them for variety of colour and profusion of blooms. Just remember that if you water them too much, they will respond by producing fewer flowers.
If you want a head start, you can plant cosmos indoors a month or so before the last spring frost. Pop them into trays or pots filled with a good seed compost. Seedlings grow fast, so move them into fiveinch pots as soon as they’re three or four inches tall.
Outdoors, plant seeds in moist, welldrained soil about ¼-inch deep and 12-18 inches apart after the danger of frost has passed.
You can also plant transplants instead of seeds.
Don’t give them a rich soil unless you want more foliage than flowers.
Seeds can take anything up to seven weeks before the first blooms appear, but once they have started, cosmos will continue to flower until they are cut down by frost.
To encourage even more blooms, deadhead plants, removing any dead or faded blooms.
Some varieties of cosmos plants can grow really tall, so staking may be necessary. Also provide protection from strong winds.
Water regularly, but make sure you don’t over-water because this can lead to plants with fewer flowers. Remember that cosmos can tolerate dry soil, even when they have been housed in a sun-baked spot.
The Sonata Series of cosmos are among the most popular – compact and growing to 30cm, they have finely-dissected leaves and single, daisy-like flower-heads 8cm across, in shades of red, pink and white with a yellow centre.