Cotton plants have flowers that resemble hibiscus and seed pods that you can use in dried arrangements. Your neighbors will ask about this attractive and unique garden plant, and they won’t believe it when you tell them what you’re growing. Find out how to sow cotton seeds in this article.
Cotton Seed Planting
Before you begin, you should know that it is illegal to grow cotton in your garden if you live in a state where it’s grown commercially. That’s because of the boll weevil eradication programs, which require the growers to use traps that the programs monitor. The eradication zone runs from Virginia to Texas and as far west as Missouri. Call your Cooperative Extension Service if you aren’t sure whether you are in the zone.
Cotton Seed Placement
Plant cotton seeds in a location with loose, rich soil where the plants will receive at least four or five hours of direct sunlight every day. You can grow it in a container, but the container must be at least 36 inches (91 cm.) deep. It helps to work an inch (2.5 cm.) or so of compost into the soil before planting. Putting them in the ground too soon slows germination. Wait until temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees F. (15 C.).
It takes 65 to 75 days of temperatures above 60 degrees F. (15 C.) for cotton to go from seed to flower. The plants need an additional 50 days after the flowers bloom for the seed pods to mature. Gardeners sowing cotton seeds in cool climates may find that they can bring the plants to flower, but don’t have enough time remaining to watch the seed pods mature.
How to Plant a Cotton Seed
Sow the seeds when the soil temperature is close to 60 degrees F. (15 C.) first thing in the morning for several consecutive days. If the soil is too cool, the seeds will rot. Plant the seeds in groups of three, spacing them 4 inches (10 cm.) apart.
Cover them with about an inch (2.5 cm.) of soil. Water the soil so that the moisture penetrates to a depth of at least 6 inches (15 cm.). You shouldn’t have to water again until seedlings emerge.
Gardeners new to planting cotton may wonder which way to plant cotton seeds; in other words, which way is up or down. The root will emerge from the tip of the seed, but you don’t have to concern yourself with placing the seed in the soil just so. No matter how you plant it, the seed will sort itself out.