Dragon’s breath plants produce the most brilliant red-colored flowers during their flowering period.
These plants are super convenient to look after and propagate. This guide tells you all the basics of taking care of these unique plants.
- What Are Dragon’s Breath Plants?
- Dragon’s Breath Plant Care
What Are Dragon’s Breath Plants?
Dragon’s breath plants, also known as Celosia argentea plumosa or Cockscomb, is an annual plant from the Americas and Africa. They produce gorgeous flame-shaped and red-colored flowers lasting from spring to fall. They tend to be extremely toxic to pets and humans, though.
Dragon’s Breath Plant Care
Dragon’s breath plant care is the easiest among houseplants. You will have to find a way to provide plenty of bright light and be vigilant about the plant’s watering needs. Don’t forget to prune your plant now and then as well.
– Water Requirements
About a year after planting, this plant finally becomes established enough to resist drought and negligence in watering. Before this, you need to be quite vigilant when it comes to watering this red plant.
As a general rule of thumb, you must not let the Dragon’s soil get drier than two inches from the top.
The most accurate estimate can be kept using a moisture meter, but you can also use your finger instead. This naturally means you will have to water more often when the weather is hotter and drier than usual.
Use lots of water and pour it slowly, so it soaks well throughout the soil. Use distilled water if you can, as it produces the best results. The second best option is to use either rainwater or filtered water instead. Try not to splash water on the plant itself as this could lead to diseases getting a foothold.
– Light Requirements
Celosia Dragon’s breath needs a minimum of six hours of exposure to bright light. It needs plenty of light to grow and does not shy away from direct light. That is why an outdoor-grown celosia plant stays the healthiest.
If you are growing it within the house, you should provide light to this plant. The most intense light comes through the southern side window. You must keep this plant next to this window or within a foot. Any more, it will not be satisfied.
Any window other than the south-facing one is not bright enough for this unique plant. That is where artificial grow lights come in. We have had a great experience using LED lights, which we recommend. Note that you will have to have them on for quite a few hours everyday but at least LEDs are cheaper, and equally as effective, than fluorescents.
– Soil Requirements
The celosia plant will grow in soils of all types of pH. However, it must have loamy, sandy soil and have excellent drainage. You cannot just take soil from your backyard and plant this fiery variety in it. Don’t worry if you have never made your soil at home because it is a very straightforward method.
Take equal parts sand, an organic substituent, and perlite. Spread them on a plastic sheet and then mix them in thoroughly. The organic substituent can be homegrown compost, worm castings, or peat moss.
Before putting this soil mix in the potting container, you better lay a layer of gravel or filter paper at its bottom. This helps prevent the sand from washing away from the drainage hole every time you water the plant. Then pour your prepared mixture over the gravel layer.
– Temperature Requirements
The fiery plant likes a range from 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures during day time and 50 to 60 degrees at nighttime. Temperatures lower than that cause it to drop its leaves and start dying eventually.
Dragon’s breath plant winter care includes covering it with transparent plastic bags to prevent the harsh frost. If you grow it in containers, then they can easily be moved indoors at that time.
This plant likes warm weather and direct sunlight during the hot summer months. You must take special care to water it regularly to prevent overheating.
– Humidity Requirements
Luckily for you, this plant does not have much humidity needed regularly. If you water this plant regularly, this should provide adequate moisture to the plant. However, sometimes the air around this plant gets too dry, and you might have to do something about it.
If your humidity level falls below 40 percent, you should use a humidity tray to improve it. To make it, take any container and fill it with clean water.
Place this container next to your fiery plant and see how the evaporating water from it improves the air moisture levels.
Other than that, you can also try misting the plant once every week. However, be very careful regarding misting because if the plant ends up getting drenched, it might lead to the development of powdery mildew. Also, do it early in the day so that the water has time to evaporate before evening.
– Fertilizing Requirements
Because this is a fast-growing plant, it will need regular fertilizing during the growth period to keep it going. The growth period lasts from around spring till early fall. Using a well-balanced liquid fertilizer, you can fertilize every month or once every two months.
Buy the said fertilizer from a reputed source and an NPK ratio of 10:10:10. This will help ensure that your plant gets an equal quantity of all the important nutrients it needs. However, you must dilute your fertilizer to half its strength to be safe. Otherwise, your plant might have to deal with severe chemical burns.
Another option is to switch to organic fertilizer. Add compost to the top layers of the soil every three weeks. It also helps cover the soil with mulch at least 2 inches thick.
Pruning during springtime will ensure that your plant grows new stems and leaves. You can cut the flowers that bloom and put them in the vase. Trust us; this will help produce more flowers during the bloom season.
Use the right cutting tools such as secateurs or pruning shears. Clean, disinfect and wash them before and after use. Most importantly, always wear thick rubber gloves, full-sleeved clothes, eye goggles, and a facemask while going near this plant.
It is toxic when ingested but can also cause skin allergies and flare-up allergic attacks in susceptible individuals.
The breath celosia plant can propagate through two main spring methods. One uses seeds, and the other uses stem cuttings from grown plants.
– Seed Propagation
Seed propagation is the preferred method of propagating this plant. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to grow a Dragon’s breath from seeds.
- Suppose you have collected and stored seeds from your plants; that would be the best. If you are buying seeds, then you need to order from a reputable and trusted vendor.
- Take a medium-sized seedling tray and fill it with an appropriate nutrient mixture. We always go for strained sphagnum moss that has been soaked in water for at least 15 minutes.
- Put these seeds in the moss in rows maintaining a distance of half an inch between each seed. Gently press each seed, so it is in contact with the moss but not buried in it. It must not be deeper than half an inch.
- Keep your tray in a bright and warm spot for the next four weeks. When the growth medium becomes dry, pour water to moisten it again.
- Wait for another two weeks after the seeds germinate before transplanting each into its pot.
– Cutting Propagation
This method is also quite easy, but a newly propagated plant might lose any variation that you might have cultivated in your plant.
- Use a pair of sharpened and disinfected pruning shears to cut a four to six inches long piece of stem.
- Your stem piece must have a leaf node on it because this is the growth center from which roots will grow.
- Although it is an optional step, applying rooting hormone to the cut end will help promote growth and keep pathogens away.
- Plant this cutting one-third into the prepared soil mix and put it where it has access to light.
- Your new plant will grow and sprout more stems in approximately three weeks.
To be a good plant parent to Breath celosia, you must know how to eliminate slugs, mealybugs, and fungal infections.
Mealybugs are easy to spot, being round, white and slow-moving. They might look innocent but, in reality, feed on the sap flowing through your plant. Soon after, your plant starts showing symptoms of malnutrition such as leaf yellowing, wilting, and growth retardation.
To get rid of them, you should remove them from your plant. Whether you pick them off by hand one by one or give your plant a thorough wash with insecticidal soap is upto you. While washing, either direct a beam of water at the plant or use a toothbrush to scrub the whole plant.
Afterward, starting a weekly ritual of spraying your plant with neem oil foliar spray would be best. This ensures that even the eggs and larvae are killed off. Mix one tablespoon of organic neem oil in one gallon of water to make a potent anti-bug foliar spray. Take care to use only a small quantity each week.
– Powdery Mildew
Does it look like somebody sprayed your breath celosia plant with flour powder? Countless white spots on the stems and leaves indicate a fungal mildew infection. This usually happens when you tend to wash the whole plant every time you water it. Plants grown outdoors in extremely rainy areas get affected too.
Powdery mildew is not fatal, so thankfully, your plant will not die. It will, however, become extremely weak and stunted.
That is why you need to wipe off all the white fungal mold covering it using a neem oil-soaked paper napkin.
You can also use neem oil foliar spray daily to treat mildew. Mix a tablespoon baking soda with one gallon of filtered water and add dishwashing soap. Spray this mixture diligently every week until you can see the disease regressing.
Slugs are among the larger types of pests that attack this plant. They climb over the stems and chew on the leaves, leaving a slimy residue behind. You might find some of your leaves chewed up partially or completely.
The good news is that slugs are relatively easy to get rid of using various methods. Method number one is to spread a boundary of crushed eggshells all around the perimeter of this plant. Ground coffee beans are also a pretty effective substitute for using eggshells. Planting lavender nearby will also keep these slugs at bay.
Another method that always works is by making a beer can trap. Take a container and pour a small amount of beer into it. Cover it with tin foil or plastic wrap but make a small opening in the center. The slugs will enter the can attracted by the smell of bear but won’t be able to come out.
– What Kind of Plant Is the Dragon’s Breath?
It is an annual plant so it will need to be replaced every year.
– How High Does Dragon’s Breath Get?
It doesn’t get as mammoth as its name might imply! It’s mature height is 24 inches and its width is 16 inches.
Congratulations on making it to the end of this guide.
Here are a few takeaway points as final thoughts:
- This plant needs at least six hours of direct and bright sunshine every day.
- Watering is essential for this plant, and you must give this plant distilled or rainwater every time its topsoil becomes dry.
- This plant grows quickly and needs to be fertilized monthly with a balanced fertilizer.
- This plant grows in all types of soil pH. Make sure that you make your soil that is loamy and well-draining.
A perennial Dragon’s breath plant indoors care is pretty straightforward. After reading our guide, you are well-equipped to grow this plant at home and deal with any problems that might erupt.
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