When creating a bee garden, most people are keen to learn anything that they can about flowers that are good for the bees, and you might be wondering whether cosmos would make a good addition to your blooms for the year.
Cosmos plants are popular with UK bumblebees, honey bees, and solitary bees. They have big, open flowers that are easy for pollinators to land inside and gather pollen from. Happily, they are easy flowers to grow and they look great in any cottage garden. You can also collect plenty of seeds from them!
Are Cosmos Good For Bees?
They will grow in most climates, so you should find that no matter where you are, they will fill your garden with bright, simple blooms. You will probably enjoy them as much as the bees do!
Are Cosmos Plants Annuals Or Perennials?
You can buy both annual and perennial cosmos plants, although annuals are far more common. They make great bedding plants for borders, and it is easy to grow the annuals from seed. Perennials will come back year after year, but only one kind of cosmos is a perennial – the chocolate cosmos.
It’s a good idea to plant a mix. Having lots of annual flowers for bees is great, but some perennials will cut down on the work that you need to do, and ensures that the food is present year after year. UK bees will really benefit from a reliable food source, as so many are suffering from lack of food and declining numbers.
For the maximum positive effect, try to plant a whole range of different flowers for the bees to enjoy. This will ensure that there is always something for your bees to eat, taking into account the different flowering seasons of each plant.
You can also help out the bees by adding some bee hotels to your garden. These can be made at home or purchased commercially, and they make a beautiful addition to most spaces. They are usually made of all natural materials, so they look great in a wildlife garden.
When To Plant Cosmos
Cosmos are sensitive to frosts, so you shouldn’t sow any seeds outdoors until the risk of frosts has passed. In the UK, this means planting them in May. However, you can sow seeds indoors much earlier than this, in either April or even March. This increases the amount of growth they can achieve in their single year, maximizing the strength of the plant.
Strong plants will produce more flowers, and in turn, will feed more bees! It’s important not to put your plants out too early. Even if they survive, they will be weakened by the cold weather, and won’t produce as many flowers.
If you have grown your seedlings indoors, make sure you harden them off for a few days before transferring them outside. They will be shocked by the cold and might die if you don’t do this.
Can Cosmos Be Overwintered?
Most cosmos plants are annuals anyway, so you cannot overwinter them. You will have to collect up their seeds, dry them, and sow new plants the following year. The plants dislike frost, so this is the best option anyway.
However, you might be wondering about chocolate cosmos, which is a perennial. Can this survive the winter?
It is quite a sensitive plant, so you will need to bring it under cover in the winter if possible. Grow it in a pot to allow for this. If you would rather plant it directly into the ground, use straw or wool to create a bed of warmth around the plant’s stem, protecting its roots from frosts.
This will usually be enough to ensure that it survives the winter, but if the weather is particularly cold, you may find that it dies and you have to replace it.
Where Can I Buy Cosmos Plants?
You can buy the seeds for cosmos plants here, where several different varieties are on offer. Because there are multiple options, you might find it useful to have some recommendations. Try any or all of the following:
Any of these should look stunning in your garden, but most importantly, they will provide great food for your insect friends. Pollinators of all kinds enjoy cosmos, but especially bees!
Cosmos is an excellent flower of choice for a bee garden, and you can get a wonderful effect by mixing the different hues. Use both annuals and perennials in order to create a beautiful look in your garden borders, but remember that perennials need protecting from the frost if they are to grow year after year.