Crocosmia

(crow-cos’me-ah)

Common name: Crocosmia, Montbretia

Family: Iridaceae, Iris

Height x width: 2-3’ x 1-2’

Growth habit: upright, clump forming from corms

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: lance- or sword-shaped, 1-3’ long and 1-2" wide, green, mainly arising from corm or base of stems; resemble gladiolus leaves

Flowers: in clusters on branched and wiry spikes, arching near tips, and often above the foliage; individual florets mostly upright, funnel-shaped; red most common, also oranges, yellows; flowers open from the base to the tip, with old flowers dropping off (self-cleaning); mid to late summer

Hardiness: USDA zones 5-9

Soil: well-drained, moist, moderately fertile, tolerates damp

Light: full sun

Pests and Problems: spider mites

Landscape habit, uses: masses, back of borders, cut flowers, large containers

Other interest: native to South Africa; from the Greek words for saffron and smell, referring to the smell of the dried flowers when immersed in water; much breeding of new cultivars done by Alan Bloom; orginal hybrid x crocosmiiflora from 1800s by Lemoine nursery in France; much more commonly seen in British gardens than in those of the U.S.

Other culture: may spread in damp areas in warm climates

Propagation: division of clumps in spring, cormels, ripe seed sown fresh (not for cultivars)

Cultivars: mainly selections of the variable hybrid x crocosmiiflora (crow-cos’me-floor-ah), it being a hybrid of aurea x pottsii; ‘Spitfire’ from masonorum and x crocosmiiflora cross; those marked * are most commonly seen in the U.S.; those marked RHS received the RHS award of merit
 
Cultivar flowers
‘Bressingham Beacon’ orange and yellow bicolored sprays, dark stems
*‘Bressingham Blaze’ orange-red
‘Carmin Brilliant’ red orange, 2’
‘Coleton Fishacre’ golden yellow, bronzed foliage
‘Constance’ yellow and red
‘Eastern Promise’ dark orange, lighter centers
*‘Emberglow’ dark red
*‘Emily McKenzie’ bright orange, dark throat markings
‘George Davidson’ light yellow, 2’, old cultivar prior to 1902
‘Gerbe d’Or’ apricot, russet leaves, improved Solfatare
‘His Majesty’ orange-scarlet, large flowers
‘Jackanapes’ yellow and red, small flowers
‘James Coey’ dark orange-red, lighter centers, nodding, large
*’Jenny Bloom’ pale yellow, for Alan Blooms youngest daughter
‘Lady Hamilton’ golden yellow, apricot throat
*’Lucifer’ bright red, most common, 3-4’, RHS
‘Mars’ soft orange
‘Norwich Canary’ canary yellow
‘Severn Sunrise’ orange, pink, apricot
‘Solfaterre’:’Solfatare’  
‘Solfatare’ apricot-yellow, 2’, one of oldest cvs from 1800s, RHS
‘Spitfire’ bright orange-red
‘Star of the East’ orange, paler center
‘Suphurea’ yellow, pale centers, large sprays, small florets
‘Venus’ peach yellow

(cultivar photo courtesy Missouri botanical garden plantfinder)


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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