How to Grow Cotton Plants

Cotton Plant

About Growing Cotton Plants in Your Home Garden

Ready to have some gardening fun!? Try growing Cotton plants. It will amaze your gardening buddies. The Cotton Plant is quite the conversation piece, growing in your flower garden, or a container on your patio or deck. With a long enough growing season, you will harvest cotton bolls. Then, after the season is over, you can harvest cotton plant seeds and give them to your gardening friends, so they can grow it, too!

Cotton plants are perennials, but almost always grow as annuals.  Growing as an annual, and rotating the crop each year, helps to minimize disease problems. They require a long growing season.

It has pretty yellow flowers appearing about 45 (or so) days after planting. As the flower withers and dies, a seedpod forms, called “bolls”. When he bolls mature, they break open, exposing real, fluffy cotton.

Try growing cotton plants indoors, or on your patio or deck. You will need a large container or pot, at least 12 inches in diameter.  

Plant Height: up to 5 feet.

Perennials, Gosspium Herbaceum

Cotton Plant

Cotton Plant Propagation

Cotton plants are grown from seeds. The seeds can be directly seeded into your garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later. Soil temperatures should be warm, before planting.

An early, indoor start is required for growing in colder northern regions. Sow Cotton Plant seeds 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Cover lightly with 1/4″ of fine garden or seed starting soil.

Keep soil temperatures at least 65-70 degrees for sprouting,

For indoor starts, try a seedling germination mat.

Transplant seedlings, only after the temperatures reach at least 65 degrees. Seedlings are sensitive to cold and frost.

Space plants 12″ 15″ apart.

Days to Germination: 7-14

Cotton Plants

How to Grow Cotton Plants

Grow Cotton plants in full sun, in a rich soil that holds moisture, yet drains well.

These plants are heavy feeders. Mix plenty of compost and manure into your garden before planting. Add fertilizer high in potassium, regularly.

Keep the soil moist, not wet, during the growing season. Water deeply.

Harvest cotton from the bolls when they break open.

For indoors, patios and decks:

  • Transplant seedlings into a 12″ diameter or larger, pot or container.

  • Place containers in a sunny location.

  • Water regularly.

  • Apply regular weekly applications of liquid fertilizer for optimum growth.  

Cotton Bolls Mature: 120 – 180 days

Ideal Soil pH: 5.8 – 8.0.

Insects and Plant Disease

Insects can be a problem, especially boll weevils. Apply insecticides, as needed.

Plant disease can occur, especially in wet weather. Plant disease can overwinter in the soil. Make certain to rotate crops.

Use a general-purpose fungicide in humid weather, and when problems appear.

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