highways dazzling with color from the
Georgia Department of Transportation is teaching all of
us about an old floral favorite that needs to be brought
back to the garden, the cosmos. I see them along
Interstate 16 starting around mile marker 98 going north
and the nature scape, if you will, is amazing.
is even more exciting is that the future of these types
of floral plantings is bright. GDOT is revved up on
planting pollinators along the highway system, and this
should have everyone doing the happy dance.
this is coinciding with the best butterfly year I have
ever seen at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in
Savannah. Here we are in early November the butterflies
are uncountable, and bees are everywhere.
letís digress back to the cosmos. Should you somehow
be thinking I am referring to the orange cosmos, I am
instead touting the Cosmos bipinnatus. This cosmos is
native to Mexico and is related to coreopsis and
rudbeckias. It is the quintessential cottage garden
flower and does bring in the pollinators.
is so good the University of Georgia has put them in
their promotional seed packs labeled "Pollinator
Blend". The pack states the "pollinators will
make a beeline to your garden when you plant this
beautiful flower mix."
cosmos have daisy-like flowers 2 to 4 inches wide in
shades of burgundy, pink, lilac, and white with orange
centers and are borne on stems of airy fern-like foliage
for weeks on end during the growing season. As GDOT and
UGA would testify these are easy to grow from seed. In
fact, they are so easy to grow from seed you can sow
succession plantings to have blooms the entire growing
season especially if you want to have a bounty of
flowers for the vase too.
Georgia, we are still enjoying the blooms almost
everyone will be planting next spring. You might get
lucky and find nursery plants, but seeds seem to be
readily available. Plant your seeds or nursery grown
transplants into loose, well-drained soil. Fertility
need not be high for this Mexico native. Seeds germinate
in 5 to 7 days with blooms, bees, and butterflies in 8
to 10 weeks. Thin the seedlings or space transplants 12
to 36 inches apart depending on your variety.
there are varieties like the 1938 All-America Selections
award-winning Sensation that tops out in the 4- to
5-foot range. Youíll love it like they did 80 years
ago. But if you are into the more diminutive cosmos then
you might want to try the 2-foot tall Sonata which was a
Flueroselect Award Winner. There are plenty of others to
try as well.
considered an annual the cosmos gives a perennial like
performance by reseeding which is perfect for the
highway system and your pollinator garden too. These are
tough plants so water sparingly but when you do, water
deeply training those roots to go deep. Your volunteer
seedlings may look a little different than what you
originally planted when it comes to height, but they
will nonetheless be dazzling.
promotional UGA Pollinator Blend seed packet has purple
coneflowers, coreopsis, rudbeckias, Liatris and salvias
which should make any bee, butterfly or hummingbird
ecstatic. To me, the only other prerequisite might be a
white picket fence. That is a little tongue and cheek,
but it would sure set up a beautiful photo.
the Georgia Department of Transportation can have
success with cosmos, you can too. I hope youíll give
them a try next spring. Follow me on Facebook Norman
Winter "The Garden Guy,"