Easy care... beautiful... adaptable... prolific. If that's what you look for in a garden flower, look no further than cosmos. These flowers come in a range of colors, including white, pink, magenta, orange, and yellow, so there's one for every garden palette. They're perfect for informal summer bouquets, too. Plant heights range from 18 inches to 4 feet, so choose varieties that suit the space.
1. Prepare. Sow cosmos after your last spring frost. Loosen soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches using a shovel or tiller. Then rake the soil smooth, removing any large clumps and rocks.
2. Plant. Use a hoe to create a very shallow furrow, then sow cosmos seeds about 6 inches apart. Cover seed with about 1/4 inch of soil and press gently.
3. Grow. When seedlings are 2 or 3 inches tall, thin them by removing extra plants. Thin to one plant every 12 to 18 inches. Keep seedbed moist until seeds germinate. Pull weeds that sprout nearby. Cosmos require little or no fertilizer — in fact, too much nitrogen fertilizer results in weak, lanky stems and fewer flowers.
4. Enjoy. Sit back and enjoy the abundant color in your garden, or harvest flowers for bouquets. Like many flowers, the more you harvest cosmos, the more flowers they'll produce.
AT A GLANCE
Exposure: Full sun.
Planting time: After last spring frost.
Planting depth: 1/4 inch deep
Spacing in row: 6 inches apart; thin to 12 to 18 inches apart, depending on type.
Time to harvest : 40 to 80 days.
Dwarf varieties grow well in containers.
Cosmos are great for bouquets.