Welcome to a Winter Plant Portrait. During the cold and less than colorful months, carefully filed photos from the previous year have been selected to brighten, inform and perhaps entertain. This post is featuring the family of Crocosmias growing here at the Fairegarden. The methodology seems to be buy one of something, plant it and see how it performs, then add more until the obsession subsides and the next cool plant attracts our attention. So it was with the Crocs. They live together in harmony in the black garden, offering brilliant color to the darker hued leaves and flowers there.
Purchased at a garden club plant sale in Knoxville a couple of years ago, we researched its needs and tried to oblige. It was written that frequent dividing will produce more blooms. Ours has been divided every year, but not yet for the coming season, add that to the to do list. This is the tallest of the Crocosmias we grow, flowering in mid summer.
This one is a passalong from my mountain man friend, Christopher of Outside Clyde. The Faire Bulbarella from whose garden this was shared calls it Montbretia, which is the older common name for the genus. It is shorter in stature than Lucifer and a bright pumpkin color.
Now is when we run into trouble with the identification. An order was placed with Plant Delights Nursery after the inital success with Lucifer. C. Little Redhead, Bright Eyes and Star Of The East, (Walcroy yellow was then and still is sold out) came and were duly planted with the tags stuck in the ground right next to each. We believe the image above is Star Of The East. (Lilium ‘Black Beauty’ is blooming in the background.) The tagged plants of the Star and Little Redhead look exactly the same, like this, however.
This one is our only pure yellow, C. ‘Solfaterre’, purchased on a visit to Nashville.
C. ‘George Davison’ purchased at Mouse Creek Nursery, pretending to be a Perilla. Added: this is not a photo of Georgie Boy, thanks to the astute eyes of James Alexander-Sinclair. But is the photo wrong, or is the plant tag wrong, I won’t know until next blooming season. After seeing his photo, link in his comment below, I hope we do have George growing here. If not, he will need to be added to the collection.
These seeds are larger than the ones collected from Lucifer and have been left to ripen fully, and be frozen a few times for good measure. If and when the pods open to expose the seeds, they will be planted in the area with fingers crossed. Added: Pods were picked, pried open and there was nothing inside. We came up empty. No seeds. No nothing. Division will be the way to propagate the crocs.
Here are some plant facts about Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ from Mobot-Missouri Botanical Garden:
Common Name: montbretia
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Bulb
Missouri Native: No
Native Range: None
Height: 2 to 4 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Bloom Time: June – August
Bloom Color: Scarlet red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist soils in full sun. Plant corms in spring 2-3″ deep and 6-8″ apart. Only reliably winter hardy to areas where winter temperatures do not dip below 0 F. In USDA Zone 5 (and possibly Zone 6), it is strongly recommended that the corms be dug up in fall and stored over winter in somewhat the same manner as for gladiolus (but do not allow them to dry out completely). Propagate by division or by corm offsets. Tolerant of summer heat and humidity.
This montbretia cultivar is an Alan Bloom hybrid (Crocosmia x Curtonus) which has flowers and foliage that are similar to gladiolus. A clump-forming plant that features tubular, nodding, scarlet red, one-sided flowers borne along the upper portions of stiffly arching, sometimes branched, flower scapes (stems) typically rising up to 3′ (infrequently to 4′) tall and slightly above the narrow, sword-shaped, basal leaves. A good fresh cut flower which is frequently used in commercial floral arrangements.
Spider mites can cause significant damage to the foliage, and, if left unchecked, impair normal flowering.
Best when planted in clumps of 12 or more. Provides color and contrast to the perennial border. May be grown in containers where lifting in winter is perhaps easier.
If you live in a zone where this is hardy, zone 6 to 9, I highly recommend any member of the Crocosmia family be added to your garden. As for digging the corms for those in zone 5-6, it might be worth the effort. If you get the name tags mixed up, it doesn’t make the flowers any less beautiful.