Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’

Full name: Celosia argentea var. spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ — “spicata” refers to the slim, tapering flowers to differentiate from fatter blooms in the variety “plumosa”

There’s been a couple of standout plants new to my garden this year, and this vibrant celosia is emphatically one of them. From Annie’s Annuals & Perennials, it was planted from 4-inch pots in August and grew steadily, like it meant business. Finding anything brave enough to settle in and thrive through August and September is a miracle. And it may be that the late summer heat and now cooler temperatures in October are precisely what this celosia desires. I know I will be trying to replicate these conditions and timing next year, with either the hoped-for self-sown seedlings or by bringing in new plants. Please let this not be a one-off performance!


Planted in full sun, it wilted slightly when temps reached high 90s but always recovered by the evening. I’ve been attentive to its water needs, which are heavier than the succulents surrounding it but not excessive. I may have pinched it back once or twice.

Blue fence in the distance is now visible with one of the lemon cypresses removed. There may be a lot more fence visible very soon…

This tropical annual satisfies a craving for the similar effects of tall spires and brushes of bloom obtained by such perennials as veronicastrum, sanguisorba — not an easy craving to satisfy in droughty zone 10.


I especially love that intense crimson with the creamy pale chartreuse columns of Euphorbia ammak ‘Variegata.’ And with the Kalanchoe bracteata ‘Silver Teaspoons’ and silvery sideritis. And with the flame orange Cosmos sulphureus when it was still in bloom. It pulsates next to the tricolored leaves of Leucadendron ‘Jester’ too, which read from a distance as soft yellow. Other than a pure red, I can’t think of a color this celosia would find offensive.


My hummingbird friends approve too, which takes the heat off my decision to remove the enormous Salvia mexicana that was rushed out of bloom by the serial heat waves. Typical with the big salvias here, its base quickly thickened with enormous woody branches and it will need to be started again with fresh cuttings. If it hadn’t grown so woody, I would have trimmed off the dead flowers to ready it for another cycle of bloom.


The Salvia mexicana was in the midde between the grevillea and bocconia, as tall as the grevillea but beamier. It blooms strong in spring/early summer and again in fall, but the late heat waves knocked it out of bloom early.


And to lessen the sting of removing the big salvia, I did bring in a couple Salvia ‘Waverly’ too.


So the hummingbirds get the salvias, and I get a Mangave ‘Silver Fox.’ Seems fair to me.


There may be other gaps coming too — big ones. Both my neighbor and Marty are concerned about the size and stability of the lemon cypresses at the east border, already approaching their supposed mature size of 30 feet. One cypress that developed brown patches has already been removed, and the remaining two, though healthy, may be on the chopping block as well. The increasing heat we’re seeing may be too much for this variant of the Monterey Cypress, even here at the coast in Southern Calif. One option was to top and hedge the remaining two, not an appealing idea to me. I’ll always prefer them shaped like the flowers of this celosia. The front garden’s Pearl Acacia has been generous with seedlings, and I may replace the cypresses with Acacia podalyrifolia grown as a large shrub. And it will grow relatively fast to 8-10 feet and take on the privacy duties the cypresses performed so well. I’m also leaning toward Eucalyptus macrocarpa, a silvery mallee gum, also 8-10 feet, if I can find one.


The only constant in a garden is change, always a useful reminder! Have a great weekend.

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6 Responses to Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’

  1. Jeremy says:

    Really beautiful–pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever seen celosia used convincingly as a landscape specimen. And boy does it work! The late heat wave also really knocked back my salvia canariensis. Funny how they can generally be tough as nails, but if unseasonable weather strikes, they just crumble. Denise–is that agave lophantha in some sort of liner? I just spent the day digging up a giant clump–it spreads viciously! Hope all is well besides!

  2. ks says:

    I remember the first time I ever saw a Celosia spicata- at Wave Hill upon the occasion of my freshman IU. Michelle sent me seeds but though they germinated they declines early and that was that. I’m glad to see your thriving ! I have been close to ordering one from Annies a couple times this year but never did. Maybe next year. And every time I see your Bocconia I once again embark on a fruitless search to find one. Those leaves.

  3. Kris P says:

    I love that Celosia and grew it once with only a degree of success. I don’t recall it ever reaching for the heavens as yours has. I saw it in the local garden center a month or more ago and turned my back on it but, seeing yours, I wish I hadn’t. But then it’s long been clear to me that, while we may not be far from one another geographically, our gardens support very different plants. I’ve never had any success with Salvia mexicana, for example. My Mangave ‘Silver Fox’ has developed a bloom spike and some of the folks on IG have warned me that it may behave more like its agave parent than its Manfreda parent.

  4. Denise says:

    @Hi Jeremy – that lophantha is in the ground and pups like crazy of course. I let a bunch of offsets accumulate then cleaned it up and it hasn’t been too bad lately. Yep, the heat is changing everything! There’s a lot of different varieties of celosia. This ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ really is special and worth looking for. Comes true from seed.
    @Kathy, I get bocconia seedlings and have one potted up now so it will have your name on it.
    @Kris, like I mentioned to Jeremy, this particular celosia is a good one and has a natural, unforced look I like. About your Silver Fox, it’s fairly young, right? And already blooming? That would suggest manfreda is dominant, but who knows? I ‘ve been seeing a few more Hansen mangaves locally and SF really stands out. Being on a hill as you are obviously makes for a very different microclimate

  5. Elaine says:

    I like the fact that Cramer’s Amazon is tall. So many annuals are being miniaturized. Yuck! Will look for the seed and see how it does in my cooler garden.

  6. hb says:

    Very attractive plant.

    I remember the Golden Cypress at Rogers–they did get big, big. ‘Kris’s Leucadendron ‘Pisa’ tempt you to try one?

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