Growing up in the North, my experience with bulbs was limited. We could not grow many of the showy plants that came from bulbs or if we did we would have to dig them up and store them over the winter in the garage if we had one which did not freeze. This stopped many people from growing things like Gladiolas and other more showy and multicolored flowers. it is a pity. When I moved south to go to school I saw this incredible red orange type of tall sword leaved plant which looked like the for-mentioned Gladiolas. It was not that, but a fiery Crocosmia blooming during the hottest days of summer. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the most robust and showy of the bunch.
Crocosmia(often called Montbretia) are a species of bulbs which are found in South Africa which has an extraordinary array of species, said to be the most in any area in the world. This genus is very small with only 12 species being named. it was named in 1851 by Jules Émile Planchon, who was a well known botanist who spent most of his career at the University of Montpelier as well as as the Royal Botanical Gardens in London. Crocosmia are from the Iris(Iridaceae) family and this is particularly reflected in the upright spiky foliage. Crocosmia are grown from corms just like their close cousins Crocus and Gladiolas.
There have now been an amazing 400 cultivars created with the best of them now fairly common throughout the world. They are easily reproduced from the corms which form chains of smaller ones which can be separated and grown into new chains or clumps. Crocosmias also set large amounts of fertile seed which is easy to germinate and grow into attractive new plants which will have bright red oranges to chrome yellows and every shade in between. Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a selection which comes from Alan Bloom (1906-2005) who has named several other well known forms. Alan Bloom is a very important plantsman and over his career he introduced more than 200 new perennial cultivars into the gardens of the world from his nursery at Bressingham Hall which later became the world famous Bressingham Gardens.
‘Lucifer’ is said to be hybrid of Crocosmia and Curtonus which are often lumped together. It is unclear if it is a true hybrid between two closely allied plant genera or just a cross between 2 or more species in the Crocosmia genus only. One thing is clear though, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is well named with it being the most brilliant of all colors. It also seems to be most vigorous of the named Crocosmias I have seen; with the plants I photographed this week being as tall as me!
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is an easy chioce to add to your garden. Crocosmia require average soil with medium moisture retention especially during their growing and blooming season which extends into later summer. To get an impressive show plant your corms in groups of 3 or more, about 3in( 7cm) deep, right side up. They enjoy full sun to make their stems rigorous and strong. If they are happy new corms with form and clumps will expand and can easily be divided. When moving the plants it is important to make sure you get all the tiny corms which will reappear if not removed completely. To keep them tidy, remove the spent flowers and cut off any browning foliage if it bothers you. Spider Mites are one pest which can be a problem here and can damage the foliage and flowers. They are hardy to -10c( 20f) and sailed through the winter here and look more spectacular than usual.
Crocosmias are stiff upright plants which work well in the back of boarders as well as used in mass plantings as you have seen. They often are used as specimens because they are so showy and standout from other plants at this time of the year. They look great with many other foliage plants and you can play with the flower colors. I like seeing white Shasta Daisies with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ because the whites are whiter and the red looks even more potent.
More on Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and others.
Species Crocosmia and what thier is to know about them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocosmia
Growing Crocosmias. http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/plantfinder/Plant.asp?code=H680
Bressingham gardens and the Blooms family http://www.bressinghamgardens.com/familyhistory.php
Alan Bloom who all plant lovers should know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Bloom_(plantsman)
Until We Meet Again Later in the Week…..