Crocosmia: the summer bulb of the year

No wimp

Looking for a real sun-worshipper? If so, choose the Crocosmia! It seems as if she turns the heat and sunshine right into more and more flowers. This is one tough lady: she can really take it. Dry soil, little water and lots of blazing sun? No problem! Her first flowers start opening in June. And the enjoyment can last for months. Your flower border can be blazing with color until late in October.

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The Crocosmia gets its name from two Greek words: krokos means ‘saffron’ and osme means ‘fragrance’. A literal translation would be ‘a plant that smells like saffron’. It’s also known as Montbretia since this name used to refer to its passionately colored flowers. The Crocosmia originated in South Africa and is still found there growing in the wild. It started being imported to Europe in 1900 and had been sparkling in our gardens ever since.


A plant that keeps on giving

What makes this sensual summer bulb so special is that it will survive the winter. The first year after planting, mulch to protect it from the effects of winter weather. After the first year, this will no longer be needed; Miss Crocosmia will then emerge year after year. This is a lady that gives and gives without expecting anything in return. With little if any care, she will keep on growing and keep the garden glowing with flowers.

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A fiery family

Crocosmia is available in the warm colors of yellow, orange and red. What could be better for a hot border? Some cultivars produce large flowers and others small ones; some are all one color and others sport two colors. They even come in a range of heights. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the most popular cultivar in this fiery family. This blazing red-orange beauty creates a tremendous explosion of color when you plant it in a large cluster.

Good to know

  • Did you know that the flowers are followed by ornamental berries? It’s like getting two fantastic features from the same plant.
  • You can cut the plant down to the ground in the fall, but this isn’t really necessary. Whatever you do, the new shoots will start emerging from their corms in the spring.
  • The Crocosmia makes a wonderful cut flower. Try cutting a few stems from its sea of flowers sometime and put them in a vase.
  • Crocosmia varieties that are shorter and more compact will be perfect for growing in pots or containers.

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