Cotton is an important commercial product in the United States and around the world. In addition to using cotton to make textiles, the plant is also used as a landscape plant in states that allow it. Cotton plants have surprisingly pretty, hibiscus-like flowers that start out white, turn deep pink and then become cotton bolls. In this article, we discuss how to prepare cotton seeds for planting in your landscape. We also provide information to help you plant cotton seed and raise the plants successfully. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Why Have Cotton Plants In Your Landscape?
In addition to being pretty, unusual landscape plants, cotton plants produce beautiful, versatile flowers. They look gorgeous in your yard, and the seed pods (cotton bolls) look pretty in dried flower arrangements. Growing a few cotton plants can also be an interesting learning experience for children.
Before you do plant cotton seeds, be sure to find out whether or not it is permitted in your state. Call your county extension office for the most up to date information. Growing cotton in your backyard could seriously interfere with your state’s cotton crop because backyard growers may inadvertently provide a haven for the dreaded boll weevil, which can cause dramatic damage to commercial cotton.
3 Ways To Prepare Cotton Seed For Planting
- You can just plant cotton seeds directly into rich, loose soil with lots of organic matter and plenty of direct sunlight (4-5 hours minimum) enough water and warmth, most seeds will eventually germinate and grow.
- To speed up and ensure germination, you can soak cotton seed in warm water overnight and then allow it to dry out before planting it directly in soil as described above.
- To be very certain of successful germination and weed out any seeds that might be duds, you can lay cotton seeds on a damp paper towel; fold the towel around the seeds, and place it in a sealed plastic container in a dark place for a couple of days.
When you check on the seeds, you’ll find that the viable seeds have sprouted and are ready to be transferred into a small pot of rich potting soil to get a start on life.
How To Grow Your Own Cotton Plants From Seed To Plant
This is a good way to get a head start on the growing season by starting your seeds indoors late in the winter. If you live in a cold climate with a short growing season, this method of preparing cotton seeds for planting is recommended.
Can Cotton Plants Grow In A Container?
Cotton can make a nice container plant, but you’ll need a big container. It must be at least three feet deep and equally as wide. If you have a big planter on your patio or other location that gets plenty of sunlight, you can put your cotton plants there.
Be sure to prepare the soil properly for best results. It’s good to use container mix, but if your planter already has soil in it, at least top dress the soil with about an inch of compost. Work it into the soil well to provide nourishment for your seeds/seedlings. Compost also helps soil drain better.
How Do You Plant Cotton Seeds & Seedlings?
Cold soil causes cotton seeds to rot. To direct sow cotton seeds into the landscape, you must wait until the soil is reliably 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Check it early in the morning, several days in a row.
When you get an acceptable temperature reading over the course of several days, you can sow the seeds (three at a time) a distance of four inches apart and one inch deep.
TIP: Don’t worry about whether the pointy or round end of the seed is up. The seeds are small, and the seedling will figure out which way the roots should go and which way the vegetation should go!
Give your seeds a deep, slow watering that provides even moisture to the top six inches of soil, minimum. If you water properly, you will not need to water again until your seedlings show their heads.
Timing Is Important!
If you are planting seedlings, wait until the weather is reliably warm for outdoor planting. Transition seedlings to the outdoors by giving them a little bit of time outside every day as the weather begins to warm.
Temperatures should be between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for seedlings to make a successful transition. Don’t wait too long, though! Your plants will need between sixty-five and seventy-five days of temperatures reliably above 60F to bloom.
Once they’ve bloomed, they’ll need another fifty days for the seed pods (cotton bolls) to mature. If your climate is too cool, or you wait too long, you may only get flowers but no cotton!