The doctor is in, and I’m self-diagnosing: I have a bad case of the winter doldrums, and the fever is raging. The only cure is sunshine, warmer weather and a blooming garden.

Short of a tropical vacation, I’ll just have to suck it up, buttercup, and conjure up mental images of lush gardens in place of gray skies and dirty snow. One of my favorite visions is ethereal cosmos fluttering in a summer breeze.

So why haven’t I planted them in recent years?

Probably because my gardens are stuffed with perennials, rose bushes and shrubs, and it’s too hard to find a bare spot. This summer may be different with two charming new cosmos I’m excited to try.

“Xanthos” is a true yellow cosmos, considered a first, according to the National Garden Bureau. It’s not that soft white verging on cream we’re told is “yellow,” but a real, soft, almost lemony yellow. A European garden award-winner, “Xanthos” offers 2-1/2 inch blooms on a compact, well-branching dark green plant that grows from 10 to 24 inches tall. The flower shape is classic cosmos, and the plant blooms from summer until first frost. Like all cosmos, it requires full sun.

The unique cosmos “Cupcakes” is a head-turner. It is rather amazing in appearance with fused petals that form a deep cup — like a cupcake paper liner. Single and semi-double blooms are 3 inches in diameter in shades of pink and white. There’s also an all-white version of “Cupcakes.”

Plants are bushy, reaching 4 feet high by 2 feet wide and sturdy enough to stand up to heat, rain and drought.

Cosmos are known as being pollinator-friendly because they attract bees and butterflies. They also provide summer-long color. They’re easy to grow, undemanding and tolerant of poor soil, humidity and heat.

Surface-sow seeds into the garden after danger of frost and about 2 ½ months later, you’ll have cosmos in full bloom. (Surface sowing is letting the seeds fall where they may and leaving them on the ground without covering with more soil.)

Although you’ll find cosmos as bedding plants, it’s not likely you’ll find newer introductions, so seeds may be the best way to go for this duet.

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NGB recommends pinching the tips of young stems for bushier, shorter plants.

Here are some classic cosmos worth growing:

“Sonata.” Shades of pink from rose to cherry mixed with white.

“Bright Lights.” Smaller, semi-double flowers in bright yellows and oranges .

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“Double Take.” Billowy full to semi-double flowers in bicolor pink with yellow eyes.

“Seashells.” Rolled petals resemble — you guessed it — seashells in shades of pink and white.

“Velouette.” Bicolor white flowers with red stripes.

“Capriola.” Semi-dwarf plants with white flowers with red centers and red picottes.

“Rose Bonbon.” Fully double, rosy pink blooms with yellow eyes.

“Antiquity.” Single blooms in mauve, copper and blush pink.

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Melody Parker is a master gardener.


Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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