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22 August 2013

Crocosmias for Colour

Now that August is here my crocosmias are in full bloom, giving splashes of bright orange around the garden. However they can be found in a variety of shades, from bright red to yellow.

Members of the iris family, Crocosmias are native to southern Africa. To be at their best they need full or partial sun and good humus-rich soils, but also appreciate summer rainfall. Avoid hot dry sites. They are almost all hardy and will return year after year, though the darker-leaved varieties are generally less hardy.

Crocosmias will reward you with strong sword-shaped leaves and bright colourful flowers, making them ideal for a sunny border. They vary in height from 50cm to 1m. approx.

Ideally they should be planted in spring, and kept well watered for the first two years, mulching with bark chippings or gravel to retain moisture. Container plants are preferable to dried corms.

If planted in the correct position they will produce a lot of flowers, though in warmer areas crocosmias tend to grow larger, with the taller varieties needing a lot of room. Get around this by choosing one of the smaller types.

Crocosmias form a chain of corms with the new corm forming at the top of the chain, and can be left undisturbed for many years. As the oldest corms rot they feed the plant, maintaining vigour from year to year. If flowering diminishes you will need to divide the plant, which should be done in spring.

Some of the classic varieties of crocosmia are listed below:-

‘Honey Angels’ Lots of apricot-yellow flowers in August and September. (50 cm)

‘Carmin Brilliant’ Medium-sized tomato-red flowers on dark stems from July - August. (50 cm)

‘Zeal Tan’ Bright orange-red flowers held on dark stems with darker foliage in August - September. (55 cm)

‘Gerbe d’Or’ Bronze-leaved crocosmia with pumpkin-gold flowers from July to September. (60 cm)

‘Emily McKenzie’ Large, deep orange flowers with crimson-mahogany throat in August and September. (60 cm)

‘Warburton’s Yellow’ Yellow outward-facing flowers from July until September. (60 cm)

‘Star of the East’ Huge orange flowers from August until late October. (60 cm)

‘Severn Sunrise’ Upward-facing flowers in a medley of oranges, pinks and yellows, from August until October (90 cm).

‘Masoniorum’ A vigorous species with upward-facing tomato red flowers, from August until September. (1m)

‘Lucifer’ The first truly red crocosmia, flowering from August to September. (1m)

I'm sure you've found a few varieties from the above selection suitable for your garden - I think I'll be trying some more as well!

Happy gardening.

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