BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO 

There are several words that people use to describe flowers. Some of these include colorful, fragrant, and beautiful. Many gardeners and passers-by enjoy seeing flowers because of the splash of vibrance and nature that they bring to any space. But there is more to flowers than what meets the eye, as some species of flora are beneficial to the environment and human health, like cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus). 

Cosmos is an ornamental plant that’s popular in the Philippines. It has beautiful flowers that attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The flowers come in different colors like red, pink, purple, yellow, or white. The plant itself can grow up to 30 to 120 centimeters tall. 

Growing cosmos also comes with benefits since these are also easy to grow and maintain. And if these flowers are well-cared for, they can beautify a home or garden for months. The seeds take seven to 21 days to germinate and will flower within 50 to 60 days after germination. 

Slightly acidic yet well-draining soil is the main requirement in growing the cosmos. The flowers can also thrive even in adverse conditions such as poor soil, extreme weather, and prolonged neglect. It can also reproduce on its own and, if planted in soil with excess nutrients, it can grow excessively. 

Another way to promote good blooms in cosmos plants is to plant them in an area with access to sunlight. The flowers can also grow in partial shade but won’t bloom well under those conditions. 

Cosmos is native to South America and can withstand temperatures similar to the region. As a result, the flowers only need to be watered during droughts because they can survive prolonged periods without water. 

Many flower species grow better with the help of fertilizer and additional inputs, but it’s not the same for the cosmos. Since the flowers can handle poor soil, adding too much fertilizer can lead to strong plants with thick foliage but only a few blooms. The only ideal time to fertilize cosmos plants is when they’re struggling to grow. 

Uses in food and medicine

Aside from being colorful to attract pollinators and beautify gardens, cosmos are also grown as edible flowers. Many restaurants use cosmos flowers to decorate salads, sandwiches, cakes, and drinks. But the flowers also bring an additional flavor because many foodies describe them to have a slightly sweet nectar taste or a zesty flavor. 

Cosmos plants are known for their medicinal properties. People in Brazil and Mexico use the plants to treat malaria. The plants can also be infused with oil because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Other medicinal uses of cosmos plants include treating skin problems and muscle aches. The plant is known to contain the natural compound dimethoxychalcone, which can aid in reversing the effects of aging and treat some ailments such as eczema, fibromyalgia, and some viruses.

Flowers are more than just decorations. Like cosmos, some are edible or used for medicinal purposes. Plus, they’re easy to grow, allowing gardeners to maximize their potential without having to put in too much work.