Crocosmia (Crocosmia), either Montbrezia (obsolete name) or Tritonia, is a bulbous plant belonging to the iris family. Crocosmia is composed of 2 Greek words: "kroros" - "crocus" and "osme" - "smell". The fact that dried flowers crocosmia have a smell similar to the aroma of saffron (crocus). This plant was named Montbrezia after French botanist Antoine Francois Ernest Coqubert de Montbrez. Tritonia is translated from Greek as "weathervane", this plant is so called because of the inflorescence, which has a spreading shape.
Under natural conditions, this flower can be found in southern Africa. In European countries this plant has been cultivated since the 19th century.
Properties of Crocosmia
Today the cultivated Crocosmia is a tuberous herbaceous hybrid perennial called the Common Crocosmia. This hybrid was created by Lemoine in the 19th century by crossing Crocosmia golden and Crocosmia potsa. The surface of the small corm is covered by a reticulate sheath.
The height of this plant can vary from 0.4 to 1 meter. It has a branched stem with sword-shaped or linear leaf lamellae. It also has a very stout flower stalk, which makes it look like a gladiolus. Because of this, the crocosmia is also called the "Japanese gladiolus", and it must be grown in exactly the same way as the gladiolus itself.
The star-shaped flowers are colored in white, orange and yellow, and they can reach 5 centimeters in diameter. The dense panicle-shaped inflorescences consist of 3 to 5 flowers. The fruit is a round-shaped, multi-seeded capsule.
This plant is very closely related to such popular flower crops as: iris, gladiolus, saffron (crocus), ferraria and freesia. Crocosmia is most often used to decorate outdoor beds, growing in conjunction with plants such as: canna, salvia, lily of the valley, rudbeckia and echinacea.
This flower is also suitable for cuttings, as its inflorescences can last up to half a month in water.
The following will describe in detail how to plant and grow crocosmia. And a lot of useful and just very interesting information about this plant will also be given.
Growing crocosmia from seeds
You can use seeds or corms to propagate crocosmia. If you decide to start growing from seed, you should choose the seedling method.
The fact is that when sowing seeds into the open soil, you can not wait for sprouts. Sowing should be done in the last days of February or early March. Immediately before sowing the seeds should be poured with water for 24 hours, and it should be changed every 6 hours. Then the seeds are sown into the soil mixture, which includes peat, sand, sod soil and humus. Then cover the pot with plastic and put it in a well-lit place.
Take care of the crocosmia seedlings in a similar way to other flowering crops. Once the first seedlings appear, the cover should be removed. Watering should be done as the top layer of substrate dries up, and you will also need to systematically gently loosen its surface to a shallow depth. Try to choose a watering regime such that the substratum is slightly humid all the time, but without water stagnation in the soil as this could promote fungal disease.
When the plants show their second or third true leaves, they should be potted into separate pots.
There they will grow until they are transplanted to the garden. Half a month before planting the plants in the open ground they will need to start hardening. They should be put outdoors for a short while and this procedure should become longer and longer every day.
Per planting of crocosmia plants outdoors
Time of planting
Per planting should be done in the last days of April or first days of May, with the soil warmed up to 6-10 degrees. To see the flowering of the crocosmia, it should be planted in an open, well-lit area, otherwise it may not appear flowers at all.
The soil must be necessarily water permeable, and the groundwater in the place where this plant is grown should not be too close to the ground surface. The fact is that these flowers react extremely negatively to stagnant liquid in the root system. The place for planting should be prepared already in autumn. To do this, you must dig over the soil, with each 1 m to make a couple of buckets of humus, 40 grams of superphosphate, 100 grams of caustic lime and 20 grams of potassium chloride. In spring time, before planting the crocosmia, nitrogen fertilizer (30 grams of the substance per 1 square meter) must be applied to the soil with mandatory incorporation.
Montbrezia crocosmia! Planting bulbs in the ground!
How to plant
The seedlings should be planted in wells prepared in advance and you should consider that the distance between the bushes should be 10 to 12 centimeters and the length between the rows should be 25 to 30 centimeters. When the seedlings are planted, you should water them. It will need shelter from the scorching rays of the sun for the first two or three days. Such a plant from a seed will not flower for another 3 years from the time it sprouts. However, you will be able to admire its beautiful flowers after only 2 years if the plant is optimally maintained.
Watering should be abundant and done once every 7 days. When the water is absorbed into the soil, it is recommended to loosen it to break up the crust that has appeared.
For normal growth and development, this flower should be systematically nourished. If you planted crocosmia in nutrient-rich soil, then you can do without nutrients. But in the case if the soil is poor, then it is necessary to start feeding the plants after the formation of the second true leaf, and carry out such a procedure with the frequency of 1 time in 1.
5 weeks. For this purpose, it is recommended to use an infusion of cowpea (1 part of cowpea for 10 parts of water), as well as full mineral fertilizer (2 grams of agent per liter of water). During budding, such a plant needs a fertilizer containing a large amount of potassium.
Care for crocosmia is not difficult at all. As for diseases and pests, if you follow all the rules of agrotechnics, you will not have problems with this plant.
How to propagate
We already mentioned above that such a flower can be propagated by seeds, and also for this use a vegetative method. You can read about how to grow crocosmia from seeds above. For vegetative propagation, gardeners use the division of corms. Each year about one adult corm grows up to 5 offspring, which begin to flower the following year. At the same time, the parent bulb still continues to build up the offspring.
In this regard, growing such a flower, it should be taken into account that it will be necessary to systematically carry out dividing and planting the corms.
Dividing, as a rule, is made after the planting becomes very dense. This is done by digging out the bulb in the springtime and carefully tearing off the offspring from the parent bulb, which are then planted in a permanent place. At the same time, it is recommended to plant the offspring in the same time interval as the planting of seedlings, namely in the last days of April or the first days of May. If you want, the detached offspring can be planted in individual pots where they will grow until May or June.
Then they will need to be transplanted into open soil.
Pests and diseases
Crocosmia is highly resistant to diseases and pests. But if cared for incorrectly or if you allow the root system to become stagnant, diseases such as:
The infected shrub begins to turn yellow, the leaf plates gradually dry up and fall off. The flower stems also become bent and the flowers deformed and change in color.
A fluffy, gray-colored patina appears on the surface of the corms.
Grafty rot (yellowing)
First the leaf plate tips turn yellow and then the leaves have a straw color. Eventually the bush dies. This disease is viral and is carried by cicadas.
If the bush is infected with fusariosis, a fungicide treatment should be made. It is recommended not to fight against gray rot, but to prevent its appearance.
If the bush is affected by jaundice, it will be impossible to cure it, because no effective remedy has yet been found for this kind of disease. For preventive purposes, to prevent infection of crocosmia, it is recommended to plant it only according to the rules of agrotechnics. It is also necessary before sowing or planting to make mandatory treatment of planting and sowing material with a solution of manganese potassium (1%). Also it is necessary to change the planting place systematically.
Particularly crocosmia can suffer from such pests as thrips, moths and also spider mites.
These insects eat corms and their young are deposited in the ground at the depth of ten centimeters. In order to destroy them, it is recommended to make special traps. At the beginning of the autumn period, you need to dig a hole half a meter deep and put fresh horse manure in it. In order not to forget where this place is, put a milestone. After some time in the manure should settle for wintering bears in the soil.
All you have to do is dig the hole and kill them.
They suck the plant juices from the crocosmia. An infested specimen has discolored spots, stripes, or streaks on the leaf plates. Shoots become crooked, leaves fall off, and flowers become less attractive. To get rid of such insects, you should make a treatment of the bush with such means as: Fytoverm, Karbofos, Agravertin, Actellic or Confidor, following the recommendations given in the leaflet.
They only settle on plants during a long period of drought. These pests also suck the plant juices from the flower. It should also be remembered that such pests are carriers of viral diseases that cannot be cured. To destroy such insects, you should use the same preparations recommended for thrips control.
Crocosmia after flowering
If you already have crocosmia growing, it does not make sense to collect its seeds because it is much easier and more effective to propagate such a plant by dividing the corms.
And in order to grow such a flower through seedlings, it is recommended to use seeds bought in the store.
How to prepare for wintering
If you grow crocosmia in a region with frosty winters, then it is recommended to remove the bulbs in the fall time from the ground. Note that they must be dug up not earlier than the second half of October, otherwise the babies will not have time to form properly. The bulbs should be dried well and placed in a cool (about 10 degrees) room with good ventilation. They should be stored in the same way as gladiolus bulbs.
If you grow crocosmia in a region with mild winters, you may not have to dig it up for the winter. However, in autumn the plot should be necessarily covered with a layer of mulch and covered with wood shavings, lapwort, or dried leaves.
If growing in a southern area you can only cover the plot in autumn with dried leaves, but the layer should be about 20 centimeters thick. A film is placed on top of the leaves. When the frost is left behind, the cover will need to be removed, with the old leaf plates cut to the ground.
Nadezhda Chernenko advises how to prepare Japanese gladiolus for winter
Crocosmia species and varieties with photos
There are approximately 55 natural crocosmia species. Below will be a description of the most common species cultivated by gardeners.
Crocosmia golden (Crocosmia aurea)
This species is native to South Africa. The leaf plates have a sword-shaped or linear shape and the flowers have a rich orange-yellow coloration. Flowering of this species is observed in early fall.
It has been cultivated since 1846. There are several forms with red, orange and yellow flowers.
Compact shrub can reach a height of 0.6 to 0.8 meters.
The ribbed, honeycomb-shaped leaflets can be up to 5 centimeters wide. The small florets have a deep orange color, and they are part of a horizontal deflected tassel-shaped inflorescence. Flowering is observed in mid-summer. This species is the most frost-resistant of the others.
Crocosmia paniculata (Crocosmia paniculata)
The species is tall, so, the bush can reach a meter and a half in height.
The leaf plates are corrugated. This species is the earliest flowering species, with flowering occurring in the second half of June. The small, deep orange flowers are in panicles.
In natural conditions can be found in Africa and this species prefers to grow in swampy areas. Therefore it is recommended to plant it in a shady place where the soil will not dry out very quickly.
The leaves of this species are narrow and smooth and the flowers are small.
Crocosmia common (Crocosmia crocosmiiflora), or garden montbrezia
This plant is among the first crocosmia garden hybrids. It was created by Lemoine in 1880, using Crocosmia golden and Crocosmia potsa for the crosses. The height of the bush can be up to 100 centimeters. It has slender, branched heads, narrow, upright, broadly linear or sword-shaped, pale green leaves.
The small red-orange or yellow flowers are funnel-shaped and are part of paniculate inflorescences. Flowering is observed in July or August.
Breeding work on crocosmia is ongoing. Thus, more than 400 cultivars have already been created. The most popular ones are:
- Emily McKenzie.
The compact bush reaches a height of 0.6 meters. The upright arrows bear a large number of brownish-orange flowers, which have a spot of bright color in the middle.
- Crocosmia Lucifer. The bush can reach up to 150 centimeters in height.
Its upright flower stalks have deep red flowers. This variety is highly frost-resistant and if the winters in the region where it is grown are not too frosty, the corms of such a plant can be left in the soil to overwinter.
- George Davidson. The bush reaches about 0.7 meters in height.
Its amber-yellow flowers look very striking against the dark green leaves. This plant is excellent for cuttings. Flowering is observed in July and August.
- Red King. The middle of the deep red florets are colored orange.
- Spitfire. The bush can be up to 0.6 m tall. Flowering is observed from August to the last days of September. The flowers are colored fiery orange.
- Mandarin Queen. The bush can reach 1.2 meters in height. The color of the flowers is deep orange.
Also excellent for decorating beds are such varieties as: Babylon, Golden Fleece, Star of the East, Norwich Canary, Mistral, Vesuvius, Bouquet Parfait, Lady Oxford, Reingold, Heath Majesty, Lady Wilson, Aurora, Frans Gals, Jayce Coy, Lady Hamilton, etc.