University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - March 2001

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’


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 for this cultivar, also oranges, yellows for other cultivars; 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; ; original hybrid x crocosmiiflora from 1800s by Lemoine nursery in France; much more commonly seen in British gardens than in those of the U.S.; much breeding of new cultivars (including this one )done by Alan Bloom, Blooms of Bressingham, Norfolk, UK.  This cultivar was selected from a batch of several hundred seedlings resulting as a cross of Crocosmia, Montbretia and Antholyza in 1963.  Two years later these were narrowed to 25, then in 1966 to 6 seedlings, this being the first one named.  It has the characteristics more of Crocosmia and Antholyza parents, with larger corms producing new plants from offshoot corms (cormels).

Other culture: may spread in damp areas in warm climates

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

Sources: many complete garden centers and specialty perennial nurseries, real world and online, (see links)

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