If you’re looking for easy-to-grow annuals for your garden, you can’t do better than Celosia cristata. Commonly known as cockscomb or woolflowers the flowers of this tough annual plant resemble the comb of a rooster, hence the name. Saving cockscomb seeds is easy, and I recently learned a new trick for collecting these seeds.
Cockscombs make great cut flowers, but while growing them for bouquets you may miss out on collecting the seeds. A neighbor of mine grows these cockscombs for decorations at her church--that is if they flower thieves in the neighborhood don’t steal them first--and she’s shared seeds with several gardeners in the neighborhood over the years.
Normally I would wait for the flower to start to fade and just shake them in a paper bag to free and collect the seeds. You see, cockscombs don’t produce seeds pods like you’re accustomed to, and the seeds are produced below the crested flower.
To harvest the seeds my neighbor runs her finger nail along the hundreds of seed heads that develop below the flower and let’s them fall into the palm of her hand. This allows her to harvest the seeds before the flower fades, or before she's ready to cut the blooms for her church.
What you will get looks like this. A lot of small, shiny, black seeds mixed in with some chaff. You can separate the chaff from the seeds by placing all of this into a bowl and gently blowing the chaff to one side.
It’s easy to see when cockscomb seeds are ready to collect because the seed heads open up to reveal the shiny seeds. Another sign that the seeds are ripe for collecting is the presence of finches on the flowers. These small birds will land on the bloom and hang upside down to eat the seeds. If you see finches on your cockscomb flowers you know it’s time to collect the seeds.
Harvesting Celosia/Cockscomb Seeds
Update: I saw the neighbor harvesting seeds from her cockscomb flowers and went out and captured this video for the post on saving cockscomb seeds.