Cotton Overview

Description Purple ornamental cotton is a showstopper. It bears rich purple heart-shape leaves and delicate hibiscuslike flowers in a soft, creamy pink color. If pollinated, the plant will develop purple cotton bolls filled with white cotton. Although ornamental cotton resembles its agricultural cousin, this version offers more color and a refined growing habit. This annual is tough to find; search out seed sources through online retailers. 
Genus Name Gossypium 'Red Leaf'
Common Name Cotton
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 2 to 4 feet
Flower Color Pink, White
Foliage Color Purple/Burgundy
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings

Agricultural Concerns

It's illegal to grow ornamental cotton in many cotton-producing states. Destructive boll weevils can take up residence and reproduce in a home-garden planting, threatening acres of agricultural cotton grown nearby. If you garden in a cotton-producing state, check with your local extension service before planting ornamental cotton. Some states offer permits for growing cotton in a residential setting.

Ornamental Cotton Care Must-Knows

Cotton thrives in long, hot growing seasons when planted in rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Site it in an area that receives at least 8 hours of bright sun a day. If drainage is an issue, plant cotton in a raised bed or container where you can better control soil make-up.

In cool climates, start cotton seeds inside 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area. Plant three seeds in a 4- to 6-inch-diameter pot and water well. After seedlings emerge, water plants regularly and place the pot in a bright, sunny window. Transplant the strongest seedling into a container garden or directly into garden soil as soon as the outdoor soil temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ornamental Cotton Varieties

'Red Foliated' cotton

purple ornamental cotton gossypium hirsutum

Gossypium hirsutum 'Red Foliated' cotton features stems and leaves that are a striking shade of cranberry. Its pink-to-cherry red flowers produce small tufts of white cotton. This variety grows 3 to 4 feet tall.

Plant Cotton with

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