The Beautiful Life Cycle of Cotton

Close to one year ago, I planted some cotton seeds.  I had gotten them out of some cotton balls that I had picked from a cotton farm while visiting my cousin in Tennessee many years back.  I was doubtful that they would even grow in a pot in my home, but I wanted to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did because about 11 months after I planted these seeds, I was finally about to harvest some cotton!  

The typical growth period for cotton is about 5 ½ months, but the growth period for my cotton plant was double that time.  I believe it took longer primarily because I grew it inside my home (to avoid insects) in a terracotta pot by the window.  So, naturally, it was not growing in the typical atmosphere that it does in the Deep South.  To my surprise though, it still managed to grow.

There are various stages of growth for cotton, which I didn’t fully realize before I planted the seeds.  I made a little collage of the life cycle of this cotton plant from when it just sprouted from seed to the actual cotton balls that were formed.

Stage 1:  Sprouting of the plant

Stage 2:  The plant begins to get larger and forms beautiful white flowers that turn purple after a few days and fall off, in preparation for the formation of the cotton boil

Stage 3:  Once the cotton boil forms, it begins to get larger and eventually splits over time 

Stage 4:  The cotton begins to display itself and the balls get larger as they mature

Stage 5:  One the leafy matter around the cotton begins to harden and dry, then that is when to remove the cotton heads from the plant

Stage 6:  After the cotton heads are removed from the plant, you then remove the cotton balls from their little chambers

Stage 7 (not pictured):  After the cotton balls are removed from their chambers, you then separate the seeds in the cotton balls from the cotton fibers (this is called the cotton “ginning” stage)

Stage 8 (not pictured):  Collect the seeds and save them in a bag for future planting and place the de-seeded cotton balls in a bag for future use

What I plan to do with my cotton is to keep on collecting it from my plant as it grows over time.  I would like to gather enough to spin some yarn with it.  It would be really cool and sentimental to make something with it, such as a blanket or even a washcloth.  I would need to grow a lot more cotton to be able to do that though. =)

This whole cotton growing process has made me appreciate cotton more and the effort that these little plants go through to create it.  I definitely will never look at cotton the same way. It’s a pretty amazing little botanical.