A lovely filler flower for any border or butterfly garden, cosmos resemble purple daisies and can be seen nodding cheerfully in a wildflower or meadow setting. Cosmos are part of the aster family and are native to the southern United States, Central America and South America. They are found mostly in Mexico.

Cosmos, in Greek, refers to the perfect order of the world and universe. The literal meaning is "beautiful". The cosmos flower was named by Spanish priests in Mexico who grew the flowers in their gardens. The evenly-spaced petals gave the flower its name. Cosmos is October's "birth flower" and is one of the easiest plants to cultivate and grow.

When it comes to how the cosmos flower fits into your garden design, it contributes the following aesthetics. A tall flower, growing to a height of 84 inches and a spread of 18 inches, the cosmos can have magenta, rose, pink, purple, yellow, white, orange and scarlet blossoms. The petals may differ for different cultivars, but the even growth stays the same. The foliage is pointed and dark green. Plant cosmos when the last frost has passed, normally after May 24.

Growing Cosmos

You should plant cosmos in full sun, in well-drained soil. Luckily, cosmos doesn't require extremely fertile soil – it will do well in poor to average soil. The flowers are drought tolerant, so overwatering can yield poor growth. Cut back any faded blooms to encourage more flowering. If you grow the flowers from seed, sow them after the soil has warmed up. Space the cosmos seeds about 18 inches apart.

Recommended Varieties

Several popular cosmos varieties are "Chocolate Cosmos", "Annual Cosmos" and "Yellow Cosmos", all of which have many different hybrids and cultivars. The flowers vary slightly from variety to variety. You can find different cultivars that are dwarfed for easier maintenance.

Landscape Design

Because cosmos grows fairly high, it may need staking. However, it's tough to stake this plant, so locating it close to a wall or driving tree branches into the soil may help to prevent stem breakage. Cosmos looks great in a kitchen garden or cottage garden, providing height at the back of a border or as the center plant in an island flowerbed.

Gardening Zones

Cosmos is hardy in all zones.

Pests and Problems

The plants rarely have any problems, being easy to grow and maintain, but you will have to watch for aphids, powdery mildew, wilt and aster yellows.