Growing Bright Lights Cosmos

Hi Lovelies,

The tall stems of ‘Bright Lights’ work really well in casual country bouquets. This one is filled with direct sown summer annuals!

Okay, brace yourselves. You’re probably not going to believe this, but today’s tale is absolutely a love story. That’s right, folks! I’ve completely fallen head over heels for ‘bright lights’ cosmos.

I discovered cosmos about six years ago, by accident. At the time, I was working at an elementary school. It was teacher appreciation week and by chance, my name was drawn from a hat as the winner of a cute pail filled with potted annuals from the local hardware store. At the time, I really had no interest in growing flowers. But, something about receiving them (petunias, impatiens, marigolds, and cosmos) made me feel so loved. I planted the flowers next to the peanuts that I was growing in my community garden patch and I enjoyed and appreciated their beauty all season long. Perhaps I should have taken this as a sign of my future flower obsession, or maybe this simple coincidence is at the root of it all — either way, back to the story.

The cosmos in my garden that year were varying shades of purple and white, and even some with stripes. Their fern-like foliage grew tall and there were a few flowers, but nothing to write home about. I forgot about them, thinking nothing of it. They next year they seeded themselves, and exhibited the same habits. I didn’t think I’d ever grow cosmos again.

I think these things are cute as a button. Orange seems to be the most prominent color, but I’ve gotten a few red and yellow shades.

They say the best things in life are free. While I can’t say that this statement is always true, I can say that I believe it to be true in this case. I acquired a package of ‘bright lights’ cosmos. I honestly don’t remember where they came from, maybe some mail order company trying to find extra business? Either way, I threw the seeds into the ground and hoped for the best.

The seeds germinated and I scoffed, “these aren’t cosmos!” These leaves looked nothing like the fern foliage I’d seen before. As it turns out, this variety is quite different from the purple cosmos I’d grown before. Flowers of this member of Cosmos sulphureus produced beautiful, vibrant yellow and orange flowers — imagine my surprise!

About this time, I have little doubt that some experienced flower growers may find my story somewhat amusing. “This girl seriously gets excited about anything, cosmos are practically the easiest thing in the world to grow.” And that, my friends, is just another reason for me to hold them close to my heart.

I love these tall stems. As you can see, some of these flowers are already going to seed and need to be cut back.

Now, onto the details – easy to direct sow after the last frost. Easy to germinate. I simply sprinkled the seed onto of worked soil and let the rain do my watering – I’m not sure if they need light to germinate, but I’ve always had great success this way. ‘Bright Lights’ is a very light feeling plant. By that, I mean that the flowers are held high above the plant and the foliage isn’t all that noticeable. While some may not enjoy the look, I’m fairly certain it would look well if planted with other lovely flowers.

Since these cosmos bloom on branching stems, flowers abound. I usually pick once the flowers have already opened, though the occasional unopened bud does make it into the vase. I’m not too sure I’ve ever seen any of the buds open. In fact, one of the few downsides, ‘bright lights’ seems to lose petals quite easily so they should be handled with care.


Unlike my purple cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), I didn’t have to wait until the end of the season to enjoy the show. These bloomed quite early after planting and absolutely thrived. While I’ve read that they handle poor soils well, I was somewhat skeptical. My current soil is essentially river silt. When it rains, it’s disgusting. When it doesn’t rain, the dirt practically turns to concrete. Yet, the cosmos are over three feet high and covered in the most cheery bright orange blooms – I’m so not complaining.

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My cosmos do well in the vase. Most of my pickings have lasted around 5-7 days, and that’s more than enough for me. I suggest cutting the flowers in the morning or when it’s cooler, as a few stems have wilted after being snipped in the heat. I think ‘bright lights’, though seemingly basic, is really worth growing. You can bet that in the future, I’ll have an entire field of these things, just waiting for me to frolic through it!

For more information you can check out the Aggie website! Very helpful!

Hope you have a wonderful day! Much love!



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