Bright Light Cosmos Never Again

weldAugust 4, 2008

This is the second year in a row that my bright light cosmos have been huge, non- blooming (or very late-blooming and insignificantly-blooming)monstrosities. I've been growing them for 20-25 years. They usually bloom mid-July till frost, and reach about 2.5-3 feet tall. I use them for fillers in the perennial border and as a wonderful cutting flower. This year and last they have just been gigantic and weed-like, completely overtaking and obscuring every other flower in the garden. Every bed I plant them in. I do not fertilize. 5-7 feet tall by season's end, with trunks as thick as two or three fingers. I've loved them so much for so many years, I can't imagine summer without them. But I won't be planting them again. Anybody else finding this?

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emagineer(z5 CO)

Mine got so big last year that I had to rip half out. And it wasn't easy, they were just as you described, big stems and a root system beyond. They did bloom well and had many people stop to say they had never seen so many this big before.

I didn't plant any this year in the same place because of the rampant growth, but have a few that found their way from seeds of last. These are about 4' high and budding. Knowing we both love them, I know there are different species and wonder if we just happened upon a very large one. Or our soil is so rich they became rich too. Last year was also very rainy, this year a drought.

I love the bright orange, 6" high cosmos too. They never fail me. But our giant ones are certainly not the norm from years of experience.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 9:07AM
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I'm glad yours at least bloomed! I don't think I'd mind so much if mine bloomed. So far this year I have one bloom on the tallest of the plants, which is a bit over 5 feet. None of the others even has any buds.
Maybe I'll try ordering from a different source next year. (The last 2 years I've ordered from a new-to-me company, Territorial. All their other seeds have been fine.) I'll plant them in the BACK of the beds instead in front. But with my luck they'll turn out to be the normal 2.5-3 feet tall!
Thanks for responding. I'm really curious to find out if many other people have experienced this.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2008 at 4:29PM
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I've never been on this site before. I recognized thinman who also posts on the Cottage Garden Forum that I am a part of.

I have a new bed that I started the first week of June. I planted 2 kinds of cosmos from purchased plants. The white flowering ones from the nursery that grows their own, have been blooming, but are not getting very big, about a foot. One is 2 feet. The others were purchased from a plant stand at a local pharmacy. They are supposed to be mixed colors. They are huge, about 4 to 5 feet, and I have had 2 white flowers so far. I would like to find some old fashioned seed and see if that makes a difference. I think some of the hybridization isn't necessarily making improvements.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:39PM
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Sulphur Cosmos up-date. Out of 16 plants, only two are blooming, and the others have no buds at all. They are all huge. Monstrously huge!
lvtgrdn, I think you're talking about the Sensation type of cosmos. They come in dwarf and taller varieties. The tall ones do get 5 or 6 feet tall, and are white, pink, and a kind of dark purple. They're very easy to grow from seed and just about every catalog offers a variety. The sulphur cosmos, variety Bright Lights, have a completely different leaf and flower, and the blooms are yellow, orange, and dark orange. They're supposed to grow about 2.5 to 3 feet tall.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 2:24PM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

Do you save seeds? I wonder if you've unintentionally selected a progenitor that is daylength sensitive, and is "waiting" until the autumnn equinox to flower. I have some marigolds from Africa that do the same.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 11:03PM
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I used to save seeds, but for the last few years have not been. The last 2 years I've planted fresh, newly purchased seed. That's an interesting theory. Maybe the seed company has unintentionally selected a daylight sensitive progenitor.
Now I'm wishing I'd saved seed 3 years ago!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 8:43AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi weld,
I'll send you some of my seed.
I have two varieties: "Bright Lights" have reverted mostly to a golden color, and "sulphureus" are vivid clear yellow, orange, and almost red. I already have seed from "Bright Lights" collected. Email me if you are interested.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 5:48PM
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Thanks so much, Renee!
A friend of mine says she can give me lots of seed this fall. Kind of nice, since she's still growing cosmos from seed I gave her years ago. It will be interesting to see what develops.
Thanks again for your kind offer.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 10:13AM
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teresa_b(z6 MO)


Would you mind sharing with us where you purchased your seeds or the brand of seeds?


    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 8:38PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I decided about two years ago not to use them in bouquets any more - or at least not to rely on them for bouquets, because they seem very fragile. But I still wanted to grow them for my own enjoyment.

However, for the last two years, they have not bloomed. It's a good thing I *didn't* rely on them!


    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 8:46PM
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Hi all, I grew Versailles mix this year and loved it. The colors are clear in light and dark pinks and the stems are strong and have a good 18" of straight stem to cut, high bud count and good bloom on cut stems. I'll grow these again, of course, it doesnt answer the orange and yellow question. Kat

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:06PM
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The last 2 years I've bought Bright Light Cosmos from Territorial Seed, and this is the first time I've purchased from them. (All their other seed has been very good.) I had been hoping the problem is only with this one source, but I think it's probably more widespread than that given the number of people who have mentioned unusual sulphur cosmos in recent years.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 8:28AM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Hi All - I kind of ignored this thread, because years ago I grew the brigt lights and they were too timeconsuming to cut and didn't get the stem length I wanted.

I do grow the Sensation series (white, pink and tall especially if you pinch them at around 1'), Red Versaille, Candy Stripe, sometimes the new double one (can't remember its name). Seashells bloom too late.

And, I did grow a pale, beautiful yellow up until two years ago. It got over 6' tall BEFORE it bloomed! It was a great fall flower, if it didn't frost first! Tons of blooms for the space it took. But, I noticed Gloeckner and others aren't carrying the seed any longer. I think it was Campus Yellow (there may still be a thread on this subject out on the forum somewhere). I decided that I need to think about winterizing the field earlier than these bloom, so have removed them from my list of flowers to grow!

I suspect that's the variety you all ended up with!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 4:46PM
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flowers4u(z6 OR)

Here's a link to the old thread!

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow cosmos

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 5:15PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Thanks for the link, Wendy. I tried searching for campus yellow and they look the same as the gold "bright lights" in the photos. Also tried finding the apricot color, but no luck! If anyone finds either a pale yellow or an apricot, I would be very grateful for the link.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 7:17PM
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Tons of blooms for the space it took up? And pale yellow? Nope, that's not what I've got. These plants are 4-5 feet in diameter, the 2 that have bloomed are orange, not the mix of color I'm used to. Just imagine 14 plants that are between 3 to 5 feet in diameter (2 comparatively small ones are 3 feet in diameter) not blooming, taking up valuable space and valuable nutrients in my garden. Tomorrow I'll rip out the 14 to make room for fall planting. If last year was any indication, all I'd get, a day or two before frost, is 5 blooms from these remaining 14. Not at all worth it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 9:22PM
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I'm very bad at estimating size. I'd say my cosmos are more like 3 feet in diameter on average, the smaller ones 2.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2008 at 8:35AM
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Last update for the year, I promise. (I'm a bit obsessed, I see.)

Anyway, I did not yank out the 14 non-blooming huge sulphur cosmos when I said I was going to. Thought that in the interests of "science" I should give them a bit more time, see if they were EVER going to bloom. As of today, none of the 14 has bloomed, and I have indeed removed them. They are difficult to dislodge, and I'm going to have to go back and use a shovel to remove the root balls and stem stubs I was unable to pull up by hand.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:33PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Mine have not yet bloomed either. The plants look great and healthy, but *still* no blooms. I don't understand - the first year or two, they were so beautiful, and then... nothing.

I hope mine are not as difficult to pull up as yours were!


    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 11:13PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Well, I actually noticed a bloom today! Although, to be honest, after looking more closely, I'm not so sure this particular bloom was Bright Lights after all. It was a bit paler yellow in color.

At that point, I remembered that I had sown some Yellow Garden cosmos, so perhaps I mixed them in with the Bright Lights, since I didn't have spectacular germination with either this year.

I did notice lots and lots of buds on the rest of the cosmos. Hope they have time to bloom!


P.S. My pink, white, and magenta cosmos are absolutely spectacular at the moment!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:44PM
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In searching my history of planting seasons past, I came across a note to self regarding Cosmos "Polidor". I remember that this cosmos was absolutely gorgeous, bi-colored orange and yellow flowers, very well branched and a good producer. Height approx 4 - 5 feet. Blooming from the end of July onwards here in S. Oregon. Hope this helps. Seed is available from Thompson and Morgan.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 10:12PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Kat, thanks for that info on Polidor. I've seen this variety in catalogs, but never got it because I had the Bright Lights seeds. Maybe I'll give the Polidor a try since it blooms so much earlier (although in the past, the Bright Lights bloomed a lot earlier for me too. Go figure...).


    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 10:48PM
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iris2sun(7 NC)

I grew the Bright Light Cosmos for the first time this year and like many of the previous posters, was very disappointed in their growth and blooming characteristics. The seeds were planted in a newly rototilled bed which was enriched with compost and a little 10-10-10. These Cosmos were monster plants reaching over 6 feet tall and several feet wide. I realize that the fertilizer could have contributed to the excessive growth of the plants. However, some of the plants produced many blooms and some plants did not bloom at all.

I was hoping to use the flowers in bouquets, but I found that the cut flowers did not last more than a few days before falling apart. Meanwhile, the plants that did bloom dropped seeds all over and within a short period of time, the seeds had sprouted like weeds in the garden paths. Within a short period of time, the self-seeded plants had grown about 2 feet tall and were blooming.

I love Cosmos, but I won't grow the Bright Lights again.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:04PM
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I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who gets 5 - 6ft of height from this plant. I'd had Cosmos for two years before I switched locations from a part-shade spot to a full sun spot. It grew very sparsely, but bloomed nicely, in partial shade and only to a height of about 1 -1 1/2 feet. I have Bright Lights and saved seed from '07. Last year, I was 'shocked' at the difference it showed in full sun. (At least I thought that was the difference.) ..It grew taller than me and had very thick stalks. Also, there was continuous blooming from early summer into fall. I'm growing it again this year, using last year's ('08) seed a different full sun location. I almost decided not to grow it again this year because it became so thick. ..I'll see how it goes this time around. (Maybe it was the weather combo we experienced last year.) attracts Hummingbirds. ..Who knew!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 11:03PM
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I had yellow cosmos growing,they grew to about 4ft r so. This year I purchased some "Bright lights" from Parks Seed. I grew 10 plants. Of those 3 started blooming at the end of May. They are all very large and the blooming ones are beautiful. However the other 7 are just taking up space. I wonder should I save the seeds from the blooming ones to plant next year, or just give it up and let the shorter, better blooming ones reseed. Definitaly a big disapointment.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 3:38PM
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Hmm. That's very interesting. I'll try Parks next year. Blooming at the end of May would be early for me. I'd say don't give up on the others quite yet, and YES save seed from the ones that are successful!

This year I tried a new-to-me type, Sunshine, from Johnny's seeds. They're doing great, blooming away, but I failed to notice they only get 12-15 inches high. Also they don't hold the blooms high up above the plant like Bright Lights used to of their most charming qualities, in my opinion. Half of these blooms seem buried in the foliage.

Thanks for mentioning Park's. I would really love to find a source for the old Bright Lights I loved for years.
I loved that airiness.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 9:10PM
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I was wondering if any one has expirenced nutrient deficiencies or toxicity problems while growing cosmos in pots. They are the Gazebo mix from parks seed. They are growing rapidly but the older leaves lower on the stem are curling towards the stem. This is my first time growing them and I'm not quite sure what they are suppose to look like after a month of growth

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:27AM
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I've had the exact problem in SW PA. I planted some of the same seeds in a container vs. the ground and they are rather spindly. The seeds planted in full sun are very bushy
, lush green vegetation, thick stems but not a flower in sight! I wonder if the polar vortex impacted growth this year? I've had flowers bloom for the first time in 3 years (black eyed susans).

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:07PM
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