Meet the latest Louisiana Super Plant: Intenz Classic celosia, a fabulous pollinator plant

116
Meet the latest Louisiana Super Plant: Intenz Classic celosia, a fabulous pollinator plant

Photos from LSU AgCenter Celosia “Intenz Classic” has been designated a Louisiana Super Plants selection for spring 2018 by the LSU AgCenter. This dwarf wheat celosia will impress you with its reliable performance and attractive appearance throughout our long, hot summer. Celosia species belong to the Amaranth family, which also includes ornamental plants like amaranthus and alternanthera (both of these are called Joseph’s coat), as well as grain types for edible seeds (Amaranthus cruentus and other species). The name celosia is derived from the Greek word for “burning,” because the magenta red flower spikes of plume types look like flames. Celosias have been in cultivation for a long time. Thomas Jefferson included them in his gardens at Monticello, and they were popular during Victorian times as a bedding plant. Celosia flowers are tiny, but occur in large numbers on showy flower heads. The mature flower heads dry beautifully retaining their shape and brilliant color. Celosia argentea also is used as a leafy food crop in many areas of the world. (Called Lagos spinach, it is a green leafy crop that can be grown here during summer heat.) Celosia plants come in three distinct forms: crested, plumed and wheat. How to classify these three forms has never been settled, as far as I can tell. I choose to consider them forms of the same species, Celosia argentea. The plumed types are Celosia argentea var. plumosa. The crested types are Celosia argentea var. cristata, and the wheat types are Celosia argentea var. spicata. However, you may also see these listed as Celosia plumosa, Celosia cristata and Celosia spicata. Plumed celosias, commonly called celosia or prince’s feather, produce fluffy plums that are broad at the base and taper to points. They come in a variety of colors, including burgundy, red, magenta, orange, pink, gold and yellow. Heights vary depending on the cultivar from 12 inches to 3 feet. Plants generally produce a main plume with many slightly smaller plumes on a stocky plant. Photos from LSU AgCenter The leaves are generally green but may also be burgundy or purple or have purple areas. Dragon’s Breath is an excellent new red plume celosia with burgundy foliage. Crested celosias are commonly called cockscombs for the flower heads’ resemblance to the combs of roosters. Most cultivated types produce large, rounded, dome-shaped flower heads with a convoluted appearance – looking for all the world like a brain. The colors are similar to the plumed types and are bright and vibrant. The plants range in size from 18 inches to 3 feet or more. They typically produce one large flower head with smaller ones produced on side branches. The leaves are generally light to dark green. The wheat celosias look distinctively different from the other two types. For one thing, the plants are very large, growing from 3 feet to more than 6 feet tall. This has tended to limit their use in gardens, and most gardeners are not as familiar with them as they are the […]