Cosmos atrosanguineus or Chocolate Cosmos is a delight for all chocolate lovers! Apart from its intense chocolate-like fragrance, the large red-brown flowers are a delight for eyes too! The plant is native to Mexico and was declared extinct in the wild. However, a species of it was cloned and cultivated. So, whatever chocolate cosmos you see out there, are actually cloned, and produced by vegetative propagation. The fragrance of chocolate cosmos flowers boosts as the day progresses to the evening.
Fragrance of Chocolate Cosmos
The flowers, red brown in color, are equally magnificent. The fragrance of chocolate flowers is due to vanillin chemical compound, the prime component of vanilla bean and of course, most chocolates. Though, the flower is completely inedible and when indigested, one should immediately seek medical assistance.
The fragrance of flowers attracts butterflies and bugs. The flower is hardy, and can adapt to hardness zone of 7 or above and grows like a perennial in the outdoor. In colder climates, you can opt for it to hang from containers, giving your terrace or balconies a plush look, feel and scent!
The flowers, which are produced in a diameter of 3-4.5 cm, have broad ray florets of six to ten rings. The center of flowers is made by disc florets. The pinnate leaves are 7-15 centimeters long.
Despite attracting bees, moth and butterflies with its rich fragrance, it doesn’t have seeds and hence, pollination is of no use. The plant can only be developed by the means of tuber division or tissue culture. “Eyes” on tubers indicate the right time of division. If you are living in a frost-sensitive zone, dig the tuber and store it in a frost-free zone for the winter. You can also grow them in containers and on fence border.
How to Grow and Care for the Chocolate Cosmos
The plant can grow in full sun or partial sun. Since it is native to Mexico, which is essentially a dry zone, the plant can do with occasional watering but if it is subjected to extreme hot climates, it is recommended that it is watered regularly. Though, allow the soil to dry between intervals. Barely moist soil can do the trick for you. Excess water can cause stem rot and tuber rot, rendering the tuber incapable of asexual reproduction and division. People living in USDA zone 7 or 8, need to prepare thick mulch to protect tubers just after the flowers have wilted and died.
As you carefully dig and store them away from frost and chill, plant them in the spring for a decadent visual and sensory experience!
The silver foliage with velvet-like red brown flowers makes it perfect for ornamental purposes. While these make for wonderful cut fresh flowers to perk up your home interiors, it is advised that you steer clear from them if you have pets or small kids at home. The fragrance of the flowers is much-like dark chocolate and very intense, and hence, can lure them to eat the flowers.