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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - February 08, 2006

From: Torrance, CA
Region: California
Topic: Propagation
Title: Cultivation of Gossypium hirsutum, Upland Cotton
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I got a cotton boll (seeds and all) at a spinning workshop. I spun the cotton and the lady who brought the cotton boles said the seeds could be planted and the plant could be grown in a container on the porch (I live a suburban town in Los Angeles county in California). How big of a planter should I use? What kind of soil mix should I get from the garden center? When should I plant the seed? How often does it need watering?

ANSWER:

Gossypium hirsutum, Upland Cotton, a member of the Family Malvaceae (Mallow Family) is a successful commercial crop in the San Joaquin Vallely of California. It requires a a long, hot growing season and lots of sunshine to be successful. Cotton is planted in the San Joaquin Valley in mid-April/early May and harvested in late September or early October. You could start the seeds in small containers and transfer them to larger pots (~ 5 gallons) once they have sprouted. The University of Oklahoma Department of Botany & Microbiology grows cotton in the greenhouse in a soil mixture of equal parts sand and loam. The plants should be well-watered, but allowed to dry between waterings. Gardens Alive! has a useful article on growing ornamental cotton.

In some states where cotton is grown as a cash crop, such as Georgia, it is against the law to grow ornamental cotton because of the boll weevil threat. It would be wise to contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture to determine if there are regulations concerning ornamental cotton in California.

For everything you ever wanted to know about Cotton Growth and Development, you can read the article from The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension Service.
 

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