University of Maryland Extension


Bob Orazi

Gossypium herbaceum

This one will stump your gardening friends.  The hibiscus-like blooms are available in a variety of pastel colors, and the cultivar ‘Red Leaf’ grows purple foliage to contrast with the white cotton bolls. Seeds can be soil sown when soil temperatures approach 55-60 degrees, but, with a maturity date of 160 days, it is suggested that seeds be started indoors in early March. After the last frost date, transplant seedlings in-ground in full sun, or pot for a patio conversation piece.  By late summer, colored flowers appear on a 3-5 foot plant. They turn pure white, followed by a green boll that blackens as it matures. As fibers expand inside the boll, it bursts open exposing white cotton.  Dried bolls are great for dried arrangements.

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