This weekend is the first in about a month that I've been able to take a leisurely Sunday morning walk through my garden. Aside from an occasional mosquito buzzing my ear or biting my ankle, I felt refreshed by the cool, moist air and the smell of freshly showered plants.
Working my way around to the southwest corner of the yard where the raised vegetable planters are located, I noticed large green peppers and blushing 'Roma' tomatoes ripening. But my spirit rose several notches when I noticed something pink peeking out from behind the leaves of the cotton I'm growing in the raised beds.
The cotton is blooming!
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the formation of leaf-like structures along the stems that looked like cupped hands. I suspected these might be the flower buds forming, but my ignorance of cotton morphology left me unsure. But this morning, my suspicions were confirmed as one pink and one white blossom opened. I don't know the exact variety of cotton I'm growing, but I'll be interested to see if I also get yellow flowers on these plants.
The first two blooms appeared low on one of the larger plants, but the more mature plants (that were started from seed indoors) are covered in flower buds.
I had discovered earlier this year that cotton is a member of the mallow family, related to hibiscus. After seeing the blooms, I can certainly appreciate the family resemblance. The cotton makes a nice complement to the large Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) that grows alongside the raised vegetable planters.
While I'm not willing to declare a victory for growing cotton in Illinois from seed to boll, I am feeling a lot more confident that I'll see the entire life cotton life cycle from start to finish. We have at least two months left of our growing season, so that should give the cotton plenty of time to produce its white puffs before our cold weather arrives.