yellow sulphur cosmos bring in butterflies like this
seemingly awoke from a daze while driving Interstate 85 north
of Columbus, Ga., beautiful Pine Mountain was in the distance
and a sea of yellow orange lavender and pink was almost
iridescently glowing in the middle of the divided highway. I
went back the next day, got out of the car and walked to the
middle surround by thousands upon thousands of cosmos flowers.
I have to admit it was exhilarating and The Greatest Show on
Earth, especially to a nature kind of guy.
Last year the
Georgia Department of Transportation is taught all of us about
the old floral favorite Cosmos bipinnatus that needs to be
brought back to the garden. This cosmos is an annual easy to
grow and drought tolerant can comes in shades of lavender,
rose, pink and white. This year GDOT taught us about the false
theory on some color combinations such as pink and rose
donít work with yellow and flaming orange. These long
stretches of an already scenic highway dazzled with colors
reminiscent of a desert sunset.
So, you gather
that this year they combined the Cosmos bipinnatus or Mexican
aster with the flaming hot colors of the Cosmos sulphureus or
Sulphur cosmos. The partnership is staggering in its beauty.
This cosmos is similar in that it is from Mexico, grown as an
annual and tough-as-nails. The fact that the winds and
torrential rains from Hurricane Michael didnít faze them has
to be considered a testimony to their durability.
GDOT has been
revved up on planting for pollinators along the highway
system, and if the powers to be saw what I did they should be
doing the happy dance, high-fiving and planning for the years
to come. Iíll tell you straight-up I was surprised when I
walked to the middle of the flowers. There were more
Monarchís than I could count. There were also Common
Buckeyes everywhere along with Gulf Fritillaries, Sulphurs,
Skippers and an assortment of bees and wasps.
Cosmos gets its
name from the Greek word kosmos as in beautiful, decoration
and ornament. Indeed, they are dazzling in the cottage garden,
cut-flower garden, backyard habitat and along the road ways.
Cosmos have daisy-like flowers 2 to 4 inches in width with
orange centers. Youíll find some selections of Cosmos
sulphureus bearing double flowers. They are so easy to grow
from seed, you can sow successive plantings to have blooms the
entire growing season, especially if you want to have a bounty
of flowers for the vase too.
plant your seeds or nursery-grown transplants into loose,
well-drained soil. Fertility need not be high for this Mexico
native. Seeds germinate in five to seven days with blooms,
bees and butterflies in eight to 10 weeks. Thin the seedlings
or space transplants 12 to 36 inches apart depending on your
A web search
will reveal a lot of varieties of both the Cosmos bipinnatus
and the Cosmos sulphueus. Like the GDOT, donít be afraid to
plant both species of this Aster relative together, it just
may make your show complete. Although considered an annual,
the cosmos gives a perennial-like performance by reseeding,
which is perfect for the highway system and your pollinator
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.
Sizzling partnerships can be created with blue forms of
Salvias and Agastache also called anise hyssops and