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8.10.12

How to Save Cockscomb Seeds

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.

Cockscomb flower, Celosia cristata


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.

Celosia cristata, cockscomb 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.

Saving Celosia cristata cockscomb seeds

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.

15 comments:

  1. I love what your neighbour is doing for the church and the seed sharing with fellow gardeners. The cockscomb shown is simply spectacular. I'm inspired to plant some.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She does seem to grow the best cockscombs I've ever seen. Most of the time I see them in other people's gardens they look anemic and not worth growing. But her crested flowers are so big and full that they grow to about the size of a toddler's head.

      I should ask her what her secret is because I can't get them to grow that large.

      Delete
  2. Going to go try this. Just noticed as I went to try to collect the mail that my cockscomb had faded. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also saw your reply on Twitter and I'm glad you got to save some seeds from your cockscombs!

      Delete
  3. I have about 2 dozen seeds! YAY! I will post my attempts Monday on my blog and share your link. Thank you so much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you got more seeds than you would find in a seed packet of cockscomb seeds at the garden center. Congrats, you!

      Delete
  4. what a fine specimen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should see if I can get a picture of the whole patch of cockscomb flowers. It is really impressive. One of her church lady friends has a front yard that is all cockscombs. It's like a forest of these red brains. I don't know what she feeds them to get them to grow about 3-4 feet tall. I should go see if she planted any this year and take a picture. It's crazy!

      Delete
  5. It almost looks like a small hydrangea blossom. I grew these years ago and with all of the new introductions kind of forgot about them. They are very impressive looking and might work along the south side where I am getting a little bored with the zinnias.

    Eileen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny you mention zinnias. I started out loving them and have planted less of them in recent years in favor of other stuff.

      Delete
  6. Very slick that the bloom "hides" the seeds below the flower, lest the finches eat them all. I'd love to see "brains en masse"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll try to get another picture of them and post them.

      Delete
  7. Interesting you site "flower thieves". I always suspected people were snipping my roses from the front lawn. One day my husband saw them and confirmed my suspicions. I can't believe its so rampant. Great color on the cockscombs..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's really unfortunate about your roses. Hopefully you got the issue squared away and they're no longer stealing your blooms.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous1:37 AM

    Wow!!! what a great way!! So happy I came along your article when I am seaching answers for my assement, now I know how to save the seed for my cockscombs. Will give it a try soon :DDD Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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