RHS Plant of the Year 2024 second place: Cosmos Cherry Chocolate

A breakthrough in the much-loved chocolate cosmos brings us larger flowers in a brand new colour – which can be enjoyed year after year

Competing against a wide range of finalists to scoop a well-deserved runner-up position in the 2024 RHS Chelsea Plant of The YearCosmos Cherry Chocolate is a new twist on an old favourite. Here’s everything you need to know about this standout

perennial cosmos.

New colour, same delicious scent

The chocolate cosmos, Cosmos atrosanguineus, is always popular for its dark chocolate-coloured and chocolate-scented flowers. Existing varieties are all fairly similar and it can be difficult to tell them apart. However, we now have a breakthrough – the first chocolate cosmos with flowers in a completely new cherry-red colour, which still retain that much-loved chocolate fragrance.

Cherry Chocolate is the first release from a new breeding programme run by previous Plant of The Year breeder Charles Valin. Not only are they a unique new colour, but the flowers are also larger than those of any other variety at 7cm across. The golden pollen sparkles against the rich, dark petals.
In addition, Cherry Chocolate plants are more compact than those of other varieties, resisting the tendency to become tall and leggy. The flower stems are shorter, so the flowers sit more closely above the foliage. These qualities make it ideal for containers.

The final standout feature of this impressive new cultivar is that the tuberous roots are hardier than other cosmos, with a hardiness rating of H4. This makes it easier to perennialise the plant to enjoy the glorious colour, scent and form year after year.

How was Cosmos Cherry Chocolate developed?

Once thought to be extinct in its native Mexican habitat, the chocolate cosmos has been a focus for plant breeders for over twenty years. Efforts to develop the chocolate cosmos have centred around widening its colour range, with Cherry Chocolate being the first breakthrough.
Cherry Chocolate was developed by Charles Valin, the leading plant breeder of his generation, who was awarded the prestigious RHS Reginald Cory Cup in 2013 for his outstanding plant breeding work. He began working on cosmos in 2019 and this is the first release from his new programme.
This breakthrough is not the result of crossing with other species – an approach that failed in the past – or of

genetic modification. Instead, Charles Valin, has achieved this colour break using traditional plant breeding techniques.

How to grow Cosmos Cherry Chocolate

Plant Cherry Chocolate in rich, well-drained soil in full sun, setting the rootball a little lower than the surrounding soil level. Cherry Chocolate is hardier than previous varieties of chocolate cosmos, rated at H4 (hardy in most of the UK, with containerised plants more vulnerable), but an autumn mulch or covering with a cloche will help to protect the small, dahlia-like tubers from harsh winter frosts.
Cherry Chocolate makes an ideal container plant for a sunny deck or patio. Try placing it near seating to best appreciate the fragrance and admire the detail of the golden pollen contrasting against cherry red petals.

Where can I buy Cherry Chocolate cosmos?

You can buy Cosmos atrosanguineus Cherry Chocolate (‘Vg001’) from RHS PlantsThompson & MorganHayloft Plants and other mail order suppliers.

More inspiration

Meet the winners up close

Join us at RHS Chelsea to discover the outstanding new plants selected for first, second and third place in the 2024 RHS Plant of the Year competition
Save to My scrapbook

You might also like

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.