Annual cosmos come in two types. The most familiar type, derived from the species Cosmos bipinnatus, can reach from 60cm-1.2m (2ft to 4ft) in height, with very finely-cut leaves and large, 5-7.5cm (2-3in) daisy flowers in pink and white tones. There is also a less often seen, much shorter and less vigorous and less hardy type, derived from Cosmos sulphureus, with broader leaves and small 4cm (1½in) flowers in orange and yellow shades.
Occasionally, over the years, a variety called ‘Yellow Garden’ was listed by seed companies. This was a tall plant with feathery leaves and yellow flowers. The problem was that it made huge leafy plants with very few flowers late in the season. It really wasn’t worth growing at all.
But now we have ‘Xanthos’. This is a cosmos of the first type, with its foliage cut into thread-like segments – but the plants are prolifically covered in yellow flowers. This is the first Cosmos bipinnatus type with yellow flowers that is actually worth growing, in fact it’s very prolific and flowering starts in July.
The plants reach about 60cm (2ft) in height, they branch well and bloom profusely. The flowers have lemon yellow petals around a golden eye, each petal fading to white around the edge. They really are lovely.
‘Xanthos’ makes an attractive centrepiece in large containers, it fits in well with perennials in sunny borders and the flowers last well when cut for the house. Thank goodness we now have a yellow cosmos we can depend on.
Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ was available in limited quantities last year from Plants of Distinction. This year you can order it from Dobies, Mr Fothergill's, Nicky’s Nursery, Suttons, Thompson & Morgan and other mail order seed companies.
Flowers with flutes
Quick growing annuals
How to grow plants in containers