Wheat or Wheatstraw Celosia
Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
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Celosia argentea (Spicata Group) ‘Cramer’s Amazon’
Celosia argentea L. is the correct and accepted scientific name of this species of Celosia. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Celosia argentea var. spicata is not an “official” variety name listed in any database I have found. The name “spicata” is used to signify the type of flower of the “wheat-type” flowers of Celosia argentea. Some of the earliest photos submitted for Celosia argentea ID were of the wheat-type. (If you check with Tropicos).
For many years, the name Celosia spicata was used for this plant. I vented quite a lot about the name change from using Celosia spicata to Celosia argentea but found the error of my thinking. In the beginning, a plant found in Madagascar was named Lestibudesia spicata by Louis-Marie Aubert de Petit-Thouars in 1806. The name was later changed to Celosia spicata by Curt Polycarp Joachim Sprengel in 1824. However, that was NOT of a herbaceous plant as we know Celosia to be, but of a shrub. The plant named Celosia spicata is now a synonym of Deeringia spicata (Thouars) Schinz (1934).
Although Celosia argentea var. spicata is NOT an “official” or “accepted” variety name, I choose to use it to signify the difference between other Celosia argentea flower types (cristata and plumed type). Many other websites do the same.
The true origin of Celosia argentea is unknown as it has been found growing in many parts of the world.
I bought my first seeds of ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the spring of 2012 when I was living at the mansion in Mississippi. I was a bit skeptical when it said they could grow to 9 feet in the south if they weren’t pinched back at 12 inches.
Information I found online says this cultivar was discovered in Peru by a cut flower grower by the name of Ralph Cramer but I don’t know when.
2013 IN MISSOURI
In 2012 when I planted them in Mississippi, I had the ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ on one side of the sidewalk in the backyard and ‘Ruby Parfait’ on the other. It is “possible” that the later seeds I collected “could have been” crossed up. SO, when I planted seeds in the spring of 2013, it was kinda shocking to find that both the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ and ‘Ruby Parfait’ had the same bi-color leaves. Ummm… ‘Ruby Parfait’ isn’t supposed to look like that. SO, the early ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ seeds and ‘Ruby Parfait’ seeds are pure, and the later ones were not. I had planted enough so I decided I would save the pure seeds for 2014.
As you can see from the above photo this group of plants looked really AWESOME!. When the plants were young the leaves were bi-color. As it got older, the leaves were solid green. The flowers are very bright!
SO, in 2014 I did plant only the seeds I knew were going to be pure Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’. BUT this photo is the only one I took of them in 2014. I had rebuilt the old flower bed behind the foundation where my grandparents home was. A bed I built in the early 1980’s after I moved into the house after grandpa passed away. Too bad I don’t have photos because those plants grew an easy 8′ tall!
In 2015 I didn’t have to plant any of the ‘Cramer’s Amazon seeds. The bigger plants in this photo are seedlings of the Oenothera biennis, Evening Primrose, that grows in a crack on what used to be the back porch of the old house. The Evening Primrose came up like crazy and I didn’t know the Celosia was there until I started to pull the Evening Primrose up. TO my surprise they were thousands of them!
They were just as bad on the south side of the house. I thought this was AWESOME at first but I soon had a HUGE problem. As I will pulling up the unwanted weeds and grass, I was also transplanting Celosia. SOON I had NO idea what I was going to do with them all. I thought about just sneaking around town and planting them here and there anonymously, kind of like Johnny Appleseed did. SO, I took the Amish lady from Wagler’s Greenhouse some. (Getting a bit ahead of myself, in 2016 she had planted them all along the front of her garden along the road… A good 200′ of them.) It did make me wonder what the backyard at the mansion looked like in Mississippi after I left.
This is a photo of a small area behind the old foundation. As you can see, they are pretty thick! I think I may never have to plant seeds again.
As I was thinning, I noticed that some of the Celosia still didn’t have bi-color leaves, even the seeds that were pure ‘Cramer’s Amazon’. SO, I put a few from the south side of the house in a spot all their own. I found some from the other bed and put them on the north side of the house next to the porch. Strange how the leaves are a lighter green and not even bi-color…
Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ are really nice robust plants. Good thing… They will need a strong root system to hold up these tall plants. This group is part of the seedlings I transplanted to the right side (east side) of the south bed from the left side. Sound confusing?
The above photo shows some of the seedlings after I transplanted and thinned them out. Notice the Evening Primrose growing in the cracks on the floor of the old back porch?
I dug a new corner bed and moved a few here. I had to do something with them!
The above photo shows the plants I transplanted to the north side of the house next to the side porch. These were a few of the ones without the maroon on their leaves. They were LOADED with flowers and many pollinating bees and flies loved them. When hardly anything else was in bloom, the Celosia provided them with food.
Believe me, this was a sight to behold! On the south side of the house, the Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ grew easily over 8 feet tall… The plants in the corner here were the ones that didn’t have maroon on their leaves. The plants behind them did.
These are the other plants in the right side of the bed on the south side of the house.
The flower spike, or inflorescence, have HUNDREDS of small flowers. Each flower has a seed inside that will fall to the ground. After a frost, the flowers will droop downward and the seeds fall out. No wonder they come up so thick in the spring!
The Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ did very well in 2016, too. I didn’t have to plant any seeds because I had PLENTY of seedlings come up all on their own.
Well, even though the “F” was later than usual in 2016, it was still sad to see it come. As you can see, the flowers are dropping down after the big zap which will allow their seeds to fall out.
The Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ coming up in the spring… I am always ready for them to come up so I can get the early weeds and grass pulled…
After they get tall enough I can transplant the seedlings where I want them. There are always plenty to choose from.
I like a couple of rows along the wall on the south side of the house… The soil gets a little amending with decomposed cow manure every spring (if I have time). We have cows so we have plenty of “The Good Stuff”. 🙂
Harvey, an Old English Game Bantam rooster always tags along where ever I go when I am outside.
Running out of words…
The Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ looking very good when the above photo was taken on September 27, 2017. I experimented and planted a row of ‘Brocade’ Marigolds along the front of the bed. Man, did they go crazy!
We had a light frost so not many plants were severely affected. The ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ leaves did change color, though.
Well, after a good ZAP the Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ flowers hang down so all their seeds can drop. GEEZ! It’s a good thing they don’t all come up.
Spring once again and the Celosia seedlings have emerged. We had a very cold January and the winter was fairly dry so I was wondering if they would come up well. Spring weeding on the south side of the house is a little late because I have to wait for seedlings to come up…
The above photo shows the longest flower for 2018.
With age and as the plants get taller, some of the leaves are not as variegated. This plant has nice variegation…
The Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ make excellent background plants along a wall or fence. Bees and butterflies are attracted to their flowers. I didn’t get any photos of the bed taken after September 25.
As usual, the Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ has come up by the thousands and now I can move a few to their proper location along the wall of the house in the south bed. After it is so hot I don’t feel like working in the bed. 🙂
In my opinion, Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ has my FIVE GOLD STAR rating for garden performance. They have beautiful dark green and maroon variegated leaves that are unique to the ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ (at least I don’t know of any others). They can attain a height of 9′ even here in USDA Zone 6. If you don’t want them to get so tall, they can be pruned so they will make shorter and bushier plants. They readily self-sow and transplant very well if you water them until they get established (which only takes a few days). After that they are very drought tolerant but, like most plants, appreciate a little water during the heat of the summer when they don’t get enough rain. They perform very well in full sun or light shade. They make great cut flowers, even in dry arrangements (just realize they will drop seeds). Bees and butterflies really like them. Some websites say hummingbirds like them, too, but I haven’t noticed any on their flowers when I have been around. Just give them room because they also branch out.
The only drawback is that self-seeding annuals normally come up when the temps are just right for them to germinate. If you have lingering cool temps in the spring it can take a while. This can be a problem if you are waiting for them to come up before you actually plan your beds. The only suggestion is to just go ahead with your plans, leaving space for reseeding annuals to be transplanted in as they come up. As with the case of this plant, there will be plenty even though you have dug areas they would have come up in. What would you do with all those plants anyway? 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you notice I made an error, please let me know. You can always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The Wikipedia pages for Celosia is not up to date as far as the list of species is concerned… The species page is for Celosia argentea, which is also not up-to-snuff… Still using The Plant List as a reference even though this page was updated in February 2018…
**The Gardener’s Workshop link is an article about the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ at the White House…