This is one of the most curious flowers that exist, and it is that its petals are distributed in such a way that it reminds us a lot of a part of a well-known animal: the rooster. To be more specific, we refer to her crest, which is why our protagonist is called Cockscomb.
If you want to know everything about it: cultivation, care, diseases that can affect it and much, much more, do not miss this special of this incredible and curious flower.
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Characteristics of the Cresta de Gallo
This plant is known by the scientific name of Celosia argentea var. crystal. Native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia, it belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. Like most of the genera of this one, they are herbaceous, with a life cycle of only one year during which it will germinate, grow, flower and, once the seeds mature, it will gradually wither as the cold winter comes. Its leaves are long, lanceolate, with very well marked green nerves.
The flowers, which can be red, yellow, pink or orange, appear in spring distributed in erect, dense and feathery inflorescences. They stay a long time in the plant; in fact, if the temperatures are warm can last up to two months, which becomes the perfect excuse to give color to that patio or terrace during the days that the weather accompanies 😉.
How is the Cresta de Gallo grown and cared for?
This is a very easy flower to grow, even if you don't have much experience with plants yet. Let's see in detail how to get healthy and durable plants:
And we are going to start, of course, at the beginning, with the seeds. If you don't have an adult yet, then you can buy a seed packet at any nursery or farm store. Once at home, I recommend that you put in a glass with water for 24 hours so that you can discard those that are not viable, which are the ones that remain floating right on the surface; Thus, you will be able to have better controlled those that you sow, those that in all probability will germinate in a few days.
The next day, it will be time to prepare the seedbed. Anything can serve you as such, but it is highly recommended use seedling trays (of those used to sow seeds of horticultural plants), since this plant has a high germination percentage, and also a fast growth rate. If we put one or two seeds in each socket, when they sprout they can be successfully transplanted into individual pots or the garden. Otherwise, that is, if we sow many in a pot, our Celosia will stay small as we do not have much space where their roots can grow.
So, if you have the seedling tray, you simply have to fill the alveoli with universal substrate for plants (or if you prefer, mix black peat with perlite in equal parts), water it well and put a maximum of 2 seeds in each hole. Then, you just have to cover them with a thin layer of substrate (more than anything so that the wind cannot carry them away), and water again.
These flowers will germinate in about 10-20 days provided that the temperature is high, above 15ºC, and that they are located in a place where the sun's rays reach them directly. In this way, we will reduce the risk that they end up having growth or development problems, since they do not live very well in semi-shade. So that they do not lack anything, it is important to keep the substrate moist (but not flooded), so we will water every 2-3 days.
When they have taken their first true leaves and have reached a height of about 10cm, you can transplant them either to a larger pot or to the ground. By the way, you should know that the flowers will not take long to appear: you will only have to wait about three months. Well, it's true, said like that it seems a long time, but when they finally do, you will see how you can contemplate their beautiful flowers for 8 weeks. What's more, You can always sow on different dates (for example, the first batch in early spring, the second in mid-spring and the third at the end of this season) to have flowers a little longer.
The Cresta de Gallo is grown mainly in pots, and because of its small size (about 50cm in height at most) it is very interesting to have it as a centerpiece, on the balcony or on the terrace. But what care does it require?
- Location: it will live better if it is exposed to direct sun.
- Irrigation: frequent, every 2-3 days. Increase the frequency during the summer if temperatures are high (above 30ºC) and if the substrate dries quickly.
- Subscriber: highly recommended. Fertilize with specific fertilizers from plants with ornamental flowers to achieve a greater quantity of flowers during the flowering season.
- Substratum: with good drainage. If in the seedbed we could use any substrate, if we are going to have it in a pot we must make sure that the soil we use does not compact. Thus, we can use the mixture composed of black peat and perlite in equal parts, or mix 50% black peat + 30% perlite + 20% vermiculite.
But it will also be spectacular in the garden, either together with other Celosia or with other plants that grow more or less to the same height. The care is a little different from what it requires in a pot:
- Location: full sun.
- Irrigation: frequent, every 3-4 days.
- Subscriber: we will pay for as long as it is in flower. We can use natural fertilizers such as liquid guano, following the recommendations indicated on the container.
- Earth: it is not demanding in terms of the pH of the soil, but it will have problems in those that have a tendency to compact. Thus, if you have, for example, clay soil, it is advisable to make a planting hole of at least 50x50cm, and fill it with plant substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts.
Diseases and pests of the Cockscomb
Now that we have seen how it is cared for both in the pot and in the ground, we have to see the part that those of us who grow plants like least: the diseases and pests that can affect the Cresta de Gallo.
Plant diseases can be transmitted by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. In the case of our protagonist, it will be a fungus who harms her. Your name? Surely you have ever heard it: powdery mildew. This is a parasitic fungus that attacks the leaves, covering them with a whitish cottony layer in the shape of a star. When it is not controlled in time, the leaves end up drying and falling.
What causes it? Mainly poor care such as excess humidity and / or fertilizer, or lack of light. Thus, the treatment involves correcting these causes, and applying treatments with natural fungicides (sulfur or copper). However, if the disease is very advanced, chemical fungicides will have to be used.
Being a plant with leaves that are juicy for many insects, unfortunately it will also need preventive treatments against pests. Those that affect you the most are:
- Mites: they settle mainly in the upper part of the leaves. If your plant has mites, you can see yellow spots, small holes that were not there before, and even cobwebs. As the Celosia is small, you can clean the leaves with soap and water, or if you prefer, use an insecticide that contains Chlorpyrifos.
- Molluscs: If you live in a very humid area, snails will surely come near your Cresta de Gallo. To avoid this, you can repel them by putting plates or glasses with beer. Another way, much less harmful for these animals, is by placing copper around your plant, since due to a reaction between the metal and the snail's slime, it will not want to get closer to it. Sure 😉.
Uses of the Rooster's Crest
As we have seen, this is an ideal plant to have anywhere, as long as it has a lot of light. But did you know that it has other uses? In Africa and Asia, where it comes from, its leaves and flowers are used as food. Yes, yes, you can make delicious salads with this plant. In fact, you should know that it is also known by the name of "Lagos spinach".
So you know, if you want to have a different dinner, boil some Celosia leaves, then add them along with the lettuce. Have a nice meal! 🙂
The Cockscomb, or Celosia argenta var. crystal, is a plant highly appreciated for its spectacular flower. In addition to its high ornamental value, it should be noted that it is very easy to grow and care, as you only have to locate it in a place where it receives a lot of direct light, if possible all day, a substrate that has good drainage and frequent waterings. So that, we are facing an ideal plant for those people who have just entered the world of gardening and do not have much experience (or any) caring for plants.
Without a doubt, this is a flower that will give us many great satisfactions. If you don't believe me, get a Rooster's Crest and tell me 🙂.