There are around 30 different species of cosmos in total. However, only three of these species are commonly grown.
From these three species, numerous cultivars and hybrids have been produced to increase the flower colors and other important features of these gorgeous summer flowers.
To start off with, we’re going to have a look at the characteristics and main features of each of the three species. Then, we’ll delve into some of the most stunning cultivars and hybrids that are available today.
The Three Main Cosmos Species
Looking to grow cosmos in your garden? Here’s a rundown of the three main species of cosmos that are commonly grown in gardens around the world.
Cosmos atrosanguineus (Chocolate cosmos)
Not only are the flowers of this lovely species a rich dark red in color but the flowers also exude a delightful chocolate scent. So, if you’re watching your diet but need a chocolate fix, growing these in your garden may just satisfy you.
This is a fairly compact species and only grows to a height of around 30 inches (75 cm) and a spread of around 18 inches (45 cm). The leaves on this plant are a dark green color.
Unlike the other two species we’re going to discuss, this one grows via underground tubers much like dahlias and irises. Therefore, propagation is quite easy by just dividing up the clumps while the plants are dormant.
Like all types of cosmos, chocolate cosmos prefers to grow in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s important not to overfeed this plant because you’ll end up with plenty of foliage but few flowers.
Cosmos bipinnatus (Garden cosmos or Tall cosmos)
The garden cosmos is probably the most commonly grown of the three species. It has very fine and delicate foliage with the flowers appearing on tall and delicate stems. There are a large number of cultivars available and their flower colors are quite varied.
These colors include white, purple, red, and pink. They also sport the common yellow centers that these flowers are known for. The flowers are quite large and can reach a diameter of 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm).
The tallest varieties of this species can reach a height of around 6 feet (180 cm). This species also prefers to grow in full sun but it can handle part shade. However, the plants that are grown in the shade will not flower as profusely as those exposed to plenty of sunshine.
These lovely flowers are ideal for including in colorful borders and are just perfect for cottage gardens where they can happily grow among other flowering annuals and perennials.
Cosmos sulphureus (Sulfur cosmos)
When you first notice this cosmos species, you might mistake it for a marigold because these plants have similar foliage and the flowers usually appear in different shades of yellow and orange. They also don’t have the distinctive yellow center of C. bipinnatus. Rather, their centers match the colors of the flower petals.
The flowers of this species are also smaller and will only reach a diameter of around 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm). Plus, this species doesn’t grow as tall as the garden cosmos. Most common varieties only reach a height of around 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm). However, there are a few varieties that can grow as tall as garden cosmos.
These lovely blooms also prefer to grow in full sun and well-drained soil. Of the three species, this one is the most drought and heat tolerant. It looks fantastic when planted in large drifts in garden beds or borders.
The Most Striking And Stunning Cosmos Cultivars
Now that you understand the difference between the three main species, let’s have a look at a selection of cultivars and cosmos types that you’ll find delightfully tantalizing and will want to add to your garden.
Cosmos ‘Apollo White’
This is one of the most stunning white varieties of the cosmos. The blooms have delicate white petals that are ruffled on the tips and almost look pin-striped. These delicate petals surround a bright yellow center.
The plant can grow to a height of 25 inches (65 cm) and the blooms reach a diameter of 4 inches (10 cm).
Cosmos ‘Apricot Lemonade’
This is a cultivar of the C. bipinnatus species with lovely large daisy-like flowers that have multi-colored petals. The petals have a pale lemon base color with stripes of pale pink. The base of each petal is a hot pink color which almost clashes with the bright yellow center.
In addition, the petals are frilled and scalloped on the ends and look like they’ve been folded in an origami fashion and then opened again. To add to the astonishing color spectrum of these flowers, when they first open, the petals are an apricot color with a blush of lilac.
Each flower can reach a diameter of around 4 inches (10 cm). The plants themselves will reach a height of around 2.5 feet (75 cm).
To top it off, this lovely cultivar won an award for innovative plant breeding in 2018 known as the Fleuroselect Novelty Award.
Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’
This is another cultivar in the C. bipinnatus species. It has gorgeous single blooms in various shades of pink. The base of the petals is the palest pink and the color darkens up the petals until it culminates in a rich dark burgundy at the tips. Of course, this cultivar also has a distinctive yellow center.
‘Candy Stripe’ is another tall variety with quite large flowers. The plant can reach a height of 6 feet (180 cm) and the flowers a diameter of around 4 inches (10 cm).
This variety is also excellent for use as a cut flower and is happy to attract plenty of bees and butterflies to your garden. Once again, it looks great planted in drifts or among other cottage-type flowering plants.
This is a striking pink cosmos that has six large petals that are a much darker pink toward the base and surround a bright yellow center. Sometimes, the flowers can also be white with bright pink margins and bases. This variety grows to a height of 30 inches (76 cm).
Cosmos ‘Choca Mocha’
Chocolate lovers will definitely be enamored with this lovely cultivar from the C. atrosanguineus species. It has lovely soft velvety petals in the darkest red that almost looks brown. The centers are dark chocolate in color.
The flowers are quite diminutive and only measure around 1 and a half inches (4 cm) in diameter. However, if you plant a few of these together, you’ll be delighted with the rich chocolate fragrance as you walk past, especially in the heat of the day.
The plants are also quite compact and only reach a height of around 12 inches (30 cm). This makes them ideal for border plantings next to a path or walkway. Alternatively, you could plant this as a border around your veggie garden to attract important pollinators.
Cosmos ‘Cosmic Orange’
This is a pretty cosmos that has a double layer of bright orange petals. It’s sure to put a smile on your face as the blooms bop around in the breeze. Also available are ‘Cosmic Red’ which has stunning scarlet red blooms and ‘Cosmic Yellow’ with bright yellow flowers.
Cosmos ‘Cupcake White’
The shape of this cosmos flower is quite different from many others. It has numerous snowy-white fused petals that form the shape of a cup with a bright yellow center. These gorgeous blooms often reach a diameter of 5 inches (13 cm).
The plants themselves are also quite tall and can reach a height of 3 feet (90 cm). These lovely blooms make excellent cut flowers and look great in a skinny vase.
Cosmos ‘Cupcakes and Saucers’
When you see this gorgeous cosmos, you’ll be amazed at what flower breeders can achieve by mixing different plants together. These magnificent blooms have outer fused petals that form a cup shape. On top of that, there are shorter individual slim petals inside the cup that form around the yellow center.
This gives the lovely blooms a very distinctive look, especially when seen among the fine, feathery dark green foliage. Flower colors include pink, lavender, and white. The plants can reach a height of around 4 feet (120 cm).
This is definitely a cultivar that needs to be seen to be believed.
This lovely cultivar has the most delicate-looking pale pink petals that have a much darker pink base all surrounding a yellow center. This variety will grow to a height of 3 feet (90 cm) and is very good at attracting bees.
This Cosmos cultivar will definitely dazzle you with its bright red blooms with a yellow center. This is another medium-height cultivar that can reach 3 feet (90 cm) in height. It will add some stunning color to your flower garden, especially when planted with whites, yellows, and pinks.
This particular cosmos is from the C. sulphureus species and is actually an heirloom variety. The blooms are reddish-orange in color and will add some warmth to your garden.
The plant is quite a tall grower and can reach a height of around 5 feet (150 cm). The flowers appear on wiry stems and can reach a diameter of around 2 inches (5cm).
Cosmos ‘Double Click’
Cosmos ‘Double Click’ varieties are available in numerous shades including white, pink, and red. These cultivars have semi-double blooms that are frilly and look like a mix between carnations and chrysanthemums. They can reach a height of 4 feet (120 cm). They make great cut flowers.
Cosmos ‘Gazebo Red’
This is a pretty little cosmos with dark red blooms with bright yellow centers that have a velvety feel. It’s only a dwarf variety and flowers quite earlier ahead of many other cultivars.
Not only is this compact cosmos ideal for garden borders but also makes excellent cut flowers.
This unusual variety has stunning salmon-colored blooms. The plants can reach a height of 5 feet (150 cm) which makes them really stand out in any garden bed. They will bloom heavily from early summer right up until the first frost in fall. Both bees and butterflies love these gorgeous flowers.
This striking cosmos will delight you with its pure white and hot pink blooms that have distinctive yellow centers. This cultivar will grow to a height of 39 inches (100 cm). Like many other cosmos varieties, these blooms make excellent cut flowers that will last for around seven to ten days.
Cosmos ‘Pink Pop Socks’
This unusual cultivar is unlike any other cosmos on our list. The flower has more of an anemone form. The pink outer petals open first but these are followed by numerous inner petals that open slowly in succession. This means that the blooms are constantly changing as the inner petals slowly open.
These plants only grow to a height of 2 feet (60 cm) and love to attract bees and butterflies. There’s also a ‘White Pop Socks’ cultivar that has pretty semi-double white flowers.
If you’re growing a variety of cosmos in your garden, you have to add a white one to your collection and ‘Purity’ should definitely be considered. It has the softest-looking and overlapping pure white petals with frilled edges. These surround the much brighter yellow centers.
These simply delightful blooms can reach a diameter of 6 inches (15 cm) and the plants can grow to a height of 4 feet (120 cm).
You’ll love the brilliance of this gorgeous Cosmos cultivar. It has bright pink petals that are darker pink toward their base. All of this brilliance is supplemented with the bright yellow center.
This plant can reach a height of 5 feet (150 cm) and each bloom can reach a diameter of 4 inches (10 cm). As you would imagine, this is another award-winning cultivar that received the All-America Selections award in 1948.
This lovely ruby-colored cosmos is sure to brighten up your garden space. It can grow to a height of 30 inches (76 cm). The plant produces a profusion of flowers and is ideal for garden borders and containers.
This is a most unusual Cosmos and definitely one to add to your collection. The petals are tubular with bright cerise on the inside and pale pink on the outside. The edges of the petals are fluted which adds to their allure. Of course, this cultivar has a bright yellow center.
These plants grow to a height of 5 feet (150 cm) and the unusual blooms only reach a diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm).
Be prepared for a surprise when you plant seeds of the cultivar ‘Sonata’ because these blooms can emerge in different colors. You might end up with delicate pink or white flowers or ones that are in a darker pink to almost red.
This is a compact cultivar that only reaches a height of around 24 inches (60 cm) which makes them ideal for planting along borders.
Cosmos ‘Sweet Sixteen’
This outstanding cosmos has a double layer of petals in pure white with a very pretty pink blush around the edges. The inner layer of petals is much shorter giving the blooms a frilly appearance.
This cultivar can grow to a height of 3 feet (90 cm). It creates the most beautiful cut flowers and has a fairly bushy growth.
This lovely cosmos has the most delightful pale yellow blooms with frilled outer petals and shorter and thinner inner petals all surrounding a dark yellow center.
This is a dwarf variety that only grows to a height of 2 feet (60 cm) and would look absolutely lovely planted en masse along the border of a flower bed. It’s also perfect for growing in containers to brighten up your outdoor entertaining area.
Not only does this lovely cultivar have delicate, almost translucent petals but they have the tendency to change color depending on what time of the day it is. In general, the petals are an interesting terra cotta color and they have dark rose edges. These petals surround a bright yellow center.
This is another low-growing variety, only reaching a height of 28 inches (71 cm). The pretty blooms can reach a diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm).
If you want a beautiful garden filled with cosmos colors, consider growing multiple cosmos flower varieties mentioned above.
See more: What does cosmos flower symbolize?