Love to Hate: Cosmos


Let’s all agree right now to stop pretending to hate cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) and (Cosmos sulphureus). Let’s agree to stop telling ourselves we are too good for it. Or that it’s too easy. Let’s agree to admit right here, right now that we think it’s a pretty flower. Let’s stop telling ourselves it doesn’t have delicate, ferny foliage and soft petals. Let’s put the breaks on our own inner elitist whispering in our ear that a plant that can come up from a sidewalk crack and still put on a show is too embarrassing to grow.


Can we all just agree right now that we are in fact delighted to find one of these tough, resilient flowers dancing on a thin and graceful stem in a light late summer breeze with a puffy bee set on top busily enjoying its pollen?



Let’s admit together, as soon as possible, that an entire front garden dedicated to this single plant is pretty darn magnificent.


Ya’ll, can we all agree to stop using disparaging descriptors such as weedy (I’ll let you have this one Tenessee), undesirable, beginner, common, tacky, boring, pedestrian, compost…


Let’s do this. Together we can put an end to the cosmos hate forever.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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32 thoughts on “Love to Hate: Cosmos

  1. There is an 81 year-old gentleman who tends several gardens (belonging to other people) along Gladstone between Dufferin Park and Bloor. He lives in an apartment building, so others have lent him their front yards so he may continue his passion for gardening. His specialty are gardens entirely of Cosmos and Coreopsis. A walk along the street is a treat thanks to his efforts.

  2. I LOVE COSMOS! Always have, not afraid to commit to it. My mom always grew it and I have special affection for them. I love Zinnias as well.

  3. My grandmother alway grew cosmos so my mom always throws a few seeds in the garden for good measure every year. I think I may guerilla garden some cosmos into the island of my cul de sac next summer!

  4. Aw, I could never hate a flower! OK, maybe marigolds, but only because they stink. But cosmos are pretty, undemanding and olfactorily meek, so they’re aces in my book.

  5. I HEART Cosmos. I have never hated them, always thought they were delicate and pretty. Petunias on the other hand…

  6. I have a friend who has a house in the Hamptons on the far end of Long Island. After her house was built, she put in a field — literally, like a half or full acre — of cosmos, instead of a lawn. It was so gorgeous — it looked so perfect in the middle of farmland, so close to the beach.

  7. Eight years ago I fell in love with cosmos bipinnatus and I am hooked. Had 7 plants among my vegetable beds last year with lots of beautiful blooms. This I planted cosmos sulphureus, and am a bit disappointed. Next year plans are to load up the front year with cosmos bipinnatus.

  8. August 15th, my daughter had her first anniversary and was baptised. When we came out of the church my grandmother slipped into someones garden and called me : ‘Peter, you need these seeds in your garden’. My head was into other things that day, and especially not in someone else’s garden. But since that day the love for these flowers kept growing – they are not ‘in your face’ flowers but delicate with their slim stems and abundant flowering. This flower will be growing in my garden next year, and I wouldn’t mind dedicating most (at least more than a few) of my front garden to it – I like asters and these flowers in all colors from white to bordeau are so asterish…

  9. Elizabeth: I believe that is the garden in the fifth photo… taken a few years back. I rode by there on my bike yesterday and it was cosmos bipinnatus.

  10. I have always loved them and have absolutely no patience with anyone who gets snobby about anything growing in my tiny backyard patch. Zinnias? Yup. Petunias? Hell yeah. Cosmos? Bring ‘em on. Last year, mine grew to 8 feet tall, thanks to some seriously powerful composted manure. I love my perennials, with their snooty, white collar short bloom seasons and their high-maintenance lifestyle, but where would we be without the blue collar bloom workhorses?

  11. Cosmos are my favourite annual plants … I have them in the garden, sometimes where I least expect them, and in large containers. At this time of the year when I let them go to seed the goldfinches love them too.

    my cosmos

  12. I finally moved in to a place with a yard this year. Zone 6, full sun (yes!). Was studying for the bar and had no time to garden. I threw some cosmo seeds on the bank and now they are gorgeous!!! LOVE these low maintenance beauties!

  13. Am I the only one who will cop to it? Ok, fine. I don’t like cosmos. I do think they look weedy. And it’s not snobbery either, because my garden looks weedy, and it’s because of actual weeds.
    But hey, that’s why we all need our own dirt to cultivate. To each her own. I have a longstanding passion for sweetpeas, which my best friend finds embarrasingly twee. Whatevah.

  14. I love cosmos and all the other annuals “elitists” love to hate. Marigolds, zinnias, petunias. . . they’re all fun to me. Just because they’re carefree & easy to get along with doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty! I guess I might be a blue-collar gardener. And happily so!

    ~ Lisa

  15. Easy you say, though even? Maybe I should try these because if it can survive summer in Oklahoma I am all over it!

  16. whoa. thats my house with the dedicated cosmos garden.. i save those seeds from house to house where i move, so its sentimental. And they smothered out the handfuls of seeds I scattered on what was an ugly white stone slab. Its so much fun to grasp handfuls of seeds and scatter them in everyone else garden in the fall :)

  17. How we loved to wind crowns and bracelets of these warm silken flowers about our wrists and hair, and to sweeten the little childrens’ soft hair with the daisy chains we taught them to make.
    There am I, a pink-crowned lady in a summer blue gown, living in cosmic silk.
    Who could ignore their beauty, either growing or in vases with other bright flowers?

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