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A Guide to Crocosmia (Montbretia) Flowering Plants
When choosing plants for your next garden, there are a variety of factors you must consider. Not every flower is the same, and knowing the characteristics of the plants you have your eye on will help you decide if your garden is going to be the right one for them. With hundreds of varieties of the Crocosmia available today, it is well worth your time to learn a bit more about this festive flowering plant.
1. The History of the Crocosmia
As I mentioned before, the Crocosmia originated in South Africa and is part of the Iris family. It was given this name because, when exposed to water, the Crocosmia gives off a smell similar to saffron. Thus, Krokos (the Greek word for Saffron) and Osme (the Greek word for smell) were combined to create its common name.
These plants are known to create a vibrant, colorful addition to late summer gardens, as their oranges, reds, and yellow flowers create quite the backdrop to those spots that are starting to look a bit wilted by July and August. These flowers are great for cutting and will last for a couple of weeks indoors if you snip them right before the bud opens, and keep them in fresh water. Crocosmias are also great in containers. These plants can be invasive as they mature, so make sure to locate them in a spot where they have plenty of room to spread and space out.
2. Where the Crocosmia Grows Best
Crocosmias grow from a corm, which is similar to a bulb. They prefer to be planted in dirt where the soil is high in hummus and drains well. (These flowering plants won’t tolerate being too dry.)
Because Crocosmias grow tall and wild, you will probably find they look best when grown in bunches. Try a few different colors and see what suits your yard best!
When planting, look for a spot in your garden that has a decent amount of full sun, though these beauties can tolerate some shade as well. Crocosmia flowers grow tall, so most people prefer to plant them in the back of a flower bed, though they also look great around a mailbox, a lamppost, or lining a pathway or stepping stones.
Put the corms in the ground with the pointy part facing toward the sun. Your hole should be about 2-3 inches deep and the corms should be placed at least 6-8 inches apart. (Remember: these guys like to spread out!) After placing the corm in the hole, cover the root ball with soil and water them in.
3. How to Care for Your Crocosmias
Once you’ve got your Crocosmia corms planted in the perfect spot in your garden, you can sit back and wait to watch their magic begin! Keep them well watered, without overdoing it through the spring and early summer. About 8 weeks after you put the corms in the ground, you’ll see your beauties appear.
Because they are mid to late summer bloomers, you’ll love the additional color after many of your earlier flowers have faded. Other than about an inch of water per week and direct sunlight, these exotics need little care throughout the growing season.
A good rule of thumb is to keep a thin layer of mulch around the plants to keep the weeds at bay and the water in place. Remember that Crocosmias make for great cut flowers and the more you clip them, the more blooms you’ll continue to receive.
At the end of the blooming season, some gardeners prefer to dig up the corms and store them until the following spring. Others will cut back the foliage and re-mulch around the plant to protect it during winter. Knowing your planting zone will help you decide which is best for your plant.
How Do I Know Which Flowering Plants Are Best for My Garden?
Gardening should be a joy, not a burden. No matter if you want to plant multiple flower gardens around your yard, or just fill a few planters on your porch, playing in your own soil is a creative outlet that also results in a visual benefit for many to enjoy. But the time, money, and resources that go into successful gardening can be minimized if you have an idea of what plants will work for you, based on your time, talents, and treasures.
Know Your Planting Zones
As I mentioned earlier, knowing where your home sits in one of the United State’s eleven different planting zones will give you a good idea of what will grow best for you. Each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) than the zone next to it, so trying to successfully grow the same flowering plants in North Dakota as you would grow in Florida may pose a problem.
Most plants that you pick up at a nursery, home, and garden store or order online will have their best hardiness zones specified on the tag. Look for flowering plants that clearly fall within your zone and you’ll have a much higher chance of success once you put them in the ground.
Know Your (Weak and Strong) Spot
Know thyself, know thy yard. What do you have to work with? Assess your growing areas and figure out what plants are going to be happiest in each one. Where a daisy flower will beg for full sun, impatiens are the golden child of shade gardens. Your soil matters as well. Lavender will do great in soil that stays fairly dry; elephant’s ears need to be watered often, or placed in places that stay pretty wet.
A good idea would be to spend some time knowing your yard before trying to know your plants. Find out where there are spots where sun-worshippers will be happy. Determine areas that may stay soggy, even during the drier spells of summer. Knowing what you have to work with will help you choose the plants that will flourish in each area of your garden.
Time’s a Tickin’
Think about what your goal is for your garden. Do you enjoy the actual process of planting, weeding, watering, and taking care of a plant after its beauty has faded? Or, like many of us, do you just want to appreciate its beauty, but don’t really have the time or desire to spend hours digging around in the dirt? Some plants (like people!) need a lot more TLC than what the average gardener wants, or can give. Other plans are very low maintenance and will thrive with very little care.
Again, most plants come with some description of how much care they are going to need. You can also ask for guidance at the nursery or garden store, or look for resources such as this one to give you more guidance on how much work your flowers are going to need.
Don’t Forget the Fun!
Even if you’re planting flowers for show more than the physical experience, allow yourself to enjoy the process. Plants give us so much more than just visual beauty. They have been proven to lower our stress levels, increase air quality and make the environment around our homes healthier for birds and bees to thrive. Plants help make our world go ‘round. And flowering plants? They are like the icing on our outdoor cake!