Is Celosia (Cockscomb) an Annual, Biennial or Perennial Plant?

If you've fallen in love with the beautiful celosia flowers, it's only natural to start considering how to add them to your garden! But you are also probably curious if they will grow back next season, or need to be replanted. In this article, we examine if celosia is considered an annual, biennial, or perennial plant!

Celosia in Garden With Pink Blooms and Green Foliage

Perhaps you want to plant celosia or cockscomb, but you’re unsure whether you have perennials or annuals. It’s understandable to be confused, especially since many different varieties of celosia can be grown indoors.

These flowers are aesthetically beautiful, mainly due to their vibrant colors, and they make for great cut flowers to boot. Moreover, celosias last longer than your average cut flower. You can plant this flower on borders, garden beds, landscaping, and inside containers, so long as they receive enough sunlight.

So the real question is, are celosia considered annual, biennial or perennial plants? Though this answer depends on the climate in which you live, there are other factors to also consider. Keep reading to discover more about celosias, such as how to plant and care for them.

The Short Answer

The answer truly depends on which hardiness zone you live in. Celosias cannot tolerate frost, so they grow as annuals in zones that freeze over. However, they can grow as perennials in the zones with warmer temperatures. Gardeners in most growing zones prefer to grow celosia as annuals and simply replant them each year for long lasting blooms.

The Long Answer

Red blooming flowers up close. The blooms are elongated coming up from the stem of the plant.
Enjoy coral-shaped blooms from June until the first frost of the season.

Most gardeners treat celosias as annual flowers in hardiness zones 2-9 due to their frost sensitivity. However, they can survive as perennials in USDA plant hardiness zones 10-12. In these areas, temperatures in the winter do not drop below 30°F, which is necessary for proper growth.

For these plants to germinate, they need to be planted in warm temperatures of 80°F or higher. After they have reached maturity, celosias need continuous warm weather to look their best. In cooler climates, they will begin to fade and eventually die off in the winter.

You can choose to grow the coral-like shaped celosia or the feather-shaped celosia. Whichever you choose, you will have the opportunity to enjoy this annual flower with all of its brilliant colors from June until frost.

About Celosia

A closeup of cut flowers in different shades of pink, orange, yellow and green. The flowers appear soft, and are bunched together.
These flowers make for a stunning bouquet, whether fresh or dried.

With all of its vibrant colors and crested flowers, this picturesque plant is tremendously decorative for the summer garden or indoor purposes. Blooms are produced from celosias from the middle of summer to early fall. Celosia grows best when treated like an annual.

This plant typically produces richly colored flowers, including red, green, orange, and pink. Their striking appearance naturally creates a spectacular bouquet. As previously mentioned, celosia makes for an excellent cut flower. In Japan, the flower is so popular that different kinds have been developed to be fantastic cut flowers.

Furthermore, dried celosias can keep their vivid colors for at least six months. These flowers can range in length from 12-36 inches; this depends on the specific variety. Moreover, the flower head can be as long as an entire foot.

There are two types of celosia that are noticeably different from one another. Celosia cristata is referred to as a cockscomb because of its uniquely shaped, twisted, and compressed blooms. On the other hand, Celosia plumosa is regarded as a plume flower and a plume of feathers because of the feather-like shape of their blooms.

Celosia is divided into three primary types:

1. Spike (Celosia argentea spicata): These feature an upright, spike shape.

2. Plume (Celosia argentea plumosa): These are feather-like and wispy.

3. Crested (Celosia argentea cristata): These are the “Cock’s Comb”/”Brain Coral” types.

Hardiness Zones for Celosia

Red flower blooming from the base of a plant. There is green leaves below the bloom. The flowers are red at the top, fading to a magenta color below the actual bloom.
If you live outside hardiness zones 10 to 12, you will either need to grow as an annual or bring them indoors in winter.

Although it’s possible to grow celosia annually in virtually any USDA hardiness zone. However, if you desire to keep it as a perennial, you must live in a hardiness zone between 10 and 12. These parameters exclude most of the USA and are really attainable in only the warmest climates in the world.

But, if you happen to live outside of these zones, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be unable to grow celosia. You can either replant it each year or move it indoors to keep it alive until the winter months pass.

Because this is an inexpensive plant, there’s nothing to keep you from replanting celosias each year. You just have to keep this in mind when considering what plants you want to have in your garden.

Growing Celosia as Perennials

A light pink perennial flower growing in the garden. It's blooming with tall and slender flowers, with light green foliage at the base of the plant. Moist ground soil is visible in the background.
After planting, you can expect to see colorful flowers in about 90 days.

For starters, plant your celosia where the sun is abundant. If you are growing outdoors, remember that it is a perennial in zones 10-12 and that you should plant them six to eight inches in well-drained soil.

To reproduce, start in April during subtropics and moderately cooler temperatures. You can begin sowing seeds in July, and later if it takes longer for warmer temperatures to arrive. However, if you’re in hotter climates such as zone 11-12, wait until the end of summer.

If you’re germinating seeds indoors, place seeds about one-quarter of an inch beneath the soil in peat pots for approximately four to six weeks before the final frost. Allow the seedlings to remain in a warm location and plant them accordingly after the last frost. It should take about 90 days for the flowers to appear.

If you reside somewhere where it’s warm all year long, and the celosias won’t get interrupted by frost, remember that they are known to take over garden spaces quickly. Even though they spread like weeds, you can keep them trimmed and in check.

You can do this by removing the flower heads that get spent before they get the opportunity to wither away. The celosia will develop seeds on the flower heads after they get spent. So, if you remove them before they fall off, they won’t spread and overwhelm your garden in the springtime.

Growing Celosia as Annuals

Three flowering plants growing in a rust colored plastic pot. The flowers are pink, magenta, and yellow. There is dark and moist potting soil in the pot.
If you don’t want your plants to die in the winter, plant them in pots that you can bring indoors in colder weather.

Since celosias can’t tolerate the cold weather, ensure that you don’t try to plant them until you’re sure the soil has had the necessary time to warm up again. It will have to be a substantial amount of time after the last frost of the year because if you do it too soon, it will kill your celosias, and you’ll have to start the process again.

To get the most out of your bloom, start growing the celosia seeds inside about one and a half months before you want to take them outside. It helps to get them established beforehand.

What can you do if you don’t live in hardiness zones 10-12 but want to keep your celosias alive until next spring? You have a few choices at your disposal. While there’s no guarantee these methods will work, they could help get you through a mild winter.

The best option is to bring them into your home. This is not as easy as it may seem, so most gardeners who live in cold climates opt to grow them as annuals or in their homes inside of pots year-round.

Another option is perfect for those that live in zones 8 and 9, which are considered borderline hardiness zones. You may be able to get away with insulating the celosias and the soil that surrounds them to seal in enough heat to make it through the winter months.

Some strategies include mulching around the plant or completely covering them. There are also effective options, such as special devices that heat the soil. Note that these methods are the most effective and the most expensive.

Bright Pink Plumosa Kelos Annual Flower Close up. The blooms are vivid, and there is green foliage underneath the flowers of the plant.
The beautiful pinkish-purple ‘Intenz’ makes the list of popular varieties.
  • ‘Intenz’ (Celosia argentea): Annual
  • ‘Flamingo Feather’ (Celosia spicata): Annual
  • Kelos Fire Red (Celosia argentea plumosa Kelos): Annual
  • Many Flower Cockscomb (Celosia floribunda): Perennial
  • West Indian Cockscomb (Celosia nitida): Perennial
  • Silver Spinach (Celosia trigyna): Perennial

Final Thoughts

Celosias are a bright and beautiful species of flowers to plant in your garden or position around your home. Though most gardeners will typically grow them as annuals, they are considered perennial flowering plants that can thrive for two to three years. Since they don’t tolerate cold temperatures and frost well, take them indoors if you don’t live in an ideal hardiness zone.

By following the tips provided, you can grow celosia as annuals or perennials based on your preference. Remember the key components of growing celosias, such as their watering, pruning, and soil needs.

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