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Colorful cosmos, dwarf to giant.

Bright blooms from summer into fall have long made cosmos a popular garden annual. Now more choices than ever are available, including dwarf varieties less than 2-1/2 feet tall, and more compact varieties of the common tall cosmos. You can start any of them from seed now.

For gardeners who want the appeal of cosmos on dwarf plants, the Klondyke strain of C. sulphureus reaches only 2 to 3 feet tall. Varieties include 'Bright Lights', a mix of yellow, orange, and red; 'Diablo', a striking orange-red; and 'Lemon Twist', clear yellow. The most compact is 'Sunny Gold', with bright gold blooms on plants 14 to 18 inches high (shown above).

For a full range of traditional cosmos colors (white, pink, crimson, lavender, purple) on 3- to 6-foot plants, try some of the Sensation strain of C. Bipinnatus. These include 'Candystripe', with white blooms stippled or edged with rose; 'Dazzler', red; 'Purity', white; 'Radiance', rose with red center.

You might also enjoy growing C. bipinnatus 'Sea Shells', new this year. Instead of cosmos' usual flat petals, its white or pink petals are shaped like hollow tubes. This oddity may not appeal to all gardeners, but it's an interesting example of the hybridizer's art. Seeds are available from Thompson and Morgan, box 1308, Jackson, N.J. 08527 (catalog is free).

Sow cosmos seeds in a sunny spot where soil is not too rich, or in flats indoors for later transplanting. Thin seedlings in ground to distance recommended on seed packet. Water plants moderately and give several light feedings during bloom.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1985
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