Name: Gossypium hirsutum ‘Red Foliated’ aka red foliaged cotton.
Type of Plant: A lovely plant with a lot of baggage. Winter hardy in Zones 9-11, but annuals in colder areas.This is a perennial shrub in the mallow family, which is grown as an agricultural crop in many parts of the world.
Why I Love This Plant: First, I have to admit that cotton is a complicated plant to admit that I admire. As a plant geek, I love how this plant looks. It’s beautiful! It’s also interesting in that it provides the fibers for cotton cloth which I and many others value and wear. But it’s also a plant that was raised and harvested by slaves in this country, and the cultivation of which causes environmental stress or harm. Yet removed from all of that, it’s a lovely, interesting plant.
I appreciate this poem – Preach – Cotton. (Note: if you’re offended by swearing, don’t click on this.)
Yet as a plant, a beautiful, interesting plant, it’s worth growing. Just remember to honor all of the pain and environmental damage that this plant has caused, while holding close to your heart the joy of how it looks and the fabrics that it’s provided.
A Word to the Wise: Start seeds indoors, under lights and in warm environments. Seeds can be found online, and they are not hard to germinate.
When you pick the stems in the fall, the seedpods will still be closed. Bring them inside and put them in a vase without water. The seedpods will open over time, and be ornamental all winter indoors. You can take the seeds out of those cotton bolls, and grow some again next year.
I love this plant, if not it’s history.