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On Gardening: Intenz celosia offers toughness and beauty

March 12

 

Intenz celosias excel in the landscape or large mized containers.

As spring approachese, I wanted to put a bug in your ear, so to speak, for a plant you probably have not tried, the Intenz celosia. You might think of it as a celosia with the look of a little rocket or perhaps a colorful wheat ear.

The Intenz series has been coming out in some drop-dead gorgeous colors or varieties like Classic, Dark Purple Candy Pink, Lipstick and White Cream. Celosia spicata and the Intenz series won my heart last year in Savannah.

Savannah was kind of the frequent tropical storm or hurricane watch path, and the celosia is not typically a plant that appreciates such occurrences. Not only did Intenz celosia keep performing but surprised me by being regularly visited by butterflies like long-tailed skippers and American ladies.

This outstanding performance coupled with the fact it has scored 4 or above on a scale of 5 in just about every trial in the country means this plant is a winner and certainly worthy of your garden dollar expenditure. What it means to you is that during a long hot summer of over three months this annual will most likely be dazzling in your mixed containers or landscape.

The Celosia spicata originates from East Africa, and its flowers are produced from summer through fall, withstanding drought and extreme summer temperatures. They offer a great source of color in the landscape when other flowers are looking weary or summer tired. They will reach 18 inches or taller with a spread of 12 to 15 inches.

Like many other flowers, there is one key ingredient to being happy with the Intenz celosia, good drainage. Wet soggy soils are lethal to celosia so amend if soil drainage is suspect. Select healthy growing transplants with few buds showing. Prior to planting, incorporate 2 pounds of a slow release 12-6-6-fertilizer, with minor nutrients, per 100 square feet of bed area. Space plants 10 to 15 inches apart.

The celosia is not a flower to be spot planted. In other words, one here and one there does not do this plant justice. Plant celosia in mass in informal clusters, drifts or sweeps. Plant them in combination with other drought tolerant flowers having the same water requirement. Be sure and add a layer of mulch.

Combine them with plants like gomphrena and ornamental grasses. The sturdy structure of the Intenz series allows them to be used in mixed containers or as single specimen or monoculture.

We used ours large mixed containers with bloodleaf bananas and ornamental peppers. The look was tropical and exciting. But I could see them just as easily in a large bed geared for pollinators, with plants like Chapel Hill yellow lantana and blue salvia.

There will be a lot of good choices of high-quality bedding plants available at your garden center this spring, just remember the Intenz celosia is a good buy for color and long-season performance.

 

 




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