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Cosmos, genus of tropical
American herbs containing about 26 species. The plants are tall with
feathery leaves and brightly colored, rayed flowers borne on long stems.
They blossom in late summer and early fall. Three species are often grown
in gardens in the United States. The most common is the garden cosmos,
an annual that grows to 3 m (10 ft). The flowers of this species are 8
cm (3 in) in diameter and are composed of yellow disks surrounded by petals,
or rays, of various shades, ranging from white to crimson. A perennial,
the black cosmos grows from a tuberous root. The plant is about 40 cm (about
16 in) tall and has flowers with red disks and purplish-red rays. Another
species, the yellow cosmos, growing to about 1.8 m (about 6 ft), has yellow
Scientific classification: Cosmos belong to the family Compositae. The garden cosmos is classified as Cosmos bipinnatus, the black cosmos as Cosmos diversifolius, and the yellow cosmos as Cosmos sulphureus.
POTTING: Cosmos will flourish in regular, well-drained,
moist garden soil in a position that is sheltered from strong winds.
They love sun. If the soil is too fertile, the plants will produce an abundance of foliage at the expense of the flowers. Removing dead flowers will increase the amount of blooms. In the winter, protect the tubers with dry mulch or lift the tubers and store them in a cool, dry, frost-free place.
PROPAGATION: Seeds may be sown indoors in a 70 degree temperature, 4 to 6 weeks before it's safe to plant outdoors. They should be planted in pots or pans of loam, leaf mold and sand. The baby plants are transplanted to flats or are potted individually in small pots. Seeds may be sown where they are to grow when the soil is warm. Basal cuttings may also be used in the spring.
VARIETIES: C. bipinnatus;
C. sulphureus; C. diversifolius; C. atrosanguineus. (There are named varieties
of the natural types.)