Levant or Brown Cotton - Gossypium herbaceum

Levant or Brown Cotton - Gossypium herbaceum


6 open pollinated seeds from our gardens for $4.00.


Gossypium herbaceum, commonly known as Levant cotton, is a species of cotton native to the semi-arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Arabia, where it still grows in the wild as a perennial shrub.  It grows up to 1.2m high and 1.2m wide with wide, hairy leaves.  The flowers are small and yellow with a purple centre. The plant is a minor source of cotton fibre used for making clothes, stuffing material for pillows and cushions, surgical dressings, twine and ropes, and carpets. The seeds are edible when roasted; it can be used as a coffee substitute. Plant stems can be made into paper. Yellow and brown dyes can be obtained from the petals.


Plants prefer light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils that is well-drained. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (moderate alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.  It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or full sun. The plant does not tolerate wind. 


Gossypium herbaceum is frost tender with many treating it as an annual. It is grown when the soil temperature reaches 16C. Sow the seeds into very moist, well-draining soil as the tap root can reach 20cm before the cotyledon breaks the soil surface.


The plants require a good soaking of water twice a week or more depending on the conditions they are grown in. Ensure plants are fertilised with a good source of phosphorus. Comfrey tea or leaves (can be used as a mulch) are a good organic source of phosphouus.  (The nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratio of dried comfrey leaves is 1.8-0.5-5.3; comfrey also contains calcium.)    


Pale yellow flowers appear that turn pink before the cotton bolls start to form. The cotton is ready for picking when the bolls open, revealing the fluffy cotton. It is a simple task of plucking out the cotton, pulling it apart to remove the seeds.


The plant can also be cut off at the ground and hung upside down for a week or two to dry and used for dried foliage arrangements. The leaves are usually removed for this.


Even though these plants are grown in the warmer regions of the world, seeds can be planted in spring after the last frost and cotton harvested in late summer.  Seeds are direct sown one to two seeds per hole about 50cm apart at a depth of 1cm. Germination will take up to 14 days.  A rough guide is when it is safe for tomatoes to grown outside, it is safe to sow your cotton seeds.


Companion plants are Basil, Mint, Dill, Sage, Onions, Chives and Sunflowers.


Also commonly known as Short-Staple American Cotton.