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Plant Crocosmia for a burst of sunset colour

Published: 4th July, 2018

CrocosmiaCrocosmia is a clump forming perennial with very attractive, limey green, sword-like leaves with lengthwise ribs or pleats and flowers the colour of sunsets from the palest of yellows, through all shades of orange and apricot to the deepest of tomato reds. Flower shapes also vary from long arching stems of small tubular flowers to large upright clusters of star shaped flower heads that can be 5 – 8cm across. Whichever variety is your favourite, you can be guaranteed it will provide colour in the border right through from end June to middle of September.

The architectural quality of Crocosmia makes it a great addition to a contemporary garden amid a bold arrangement of architectural plants and grasses picked for their shape and texture. The hot colours and sharp leaves also work brilliantly in tropical planting schemes as well as making a wonderful partnership with grasses. The larger flowered varieties are also fabulous as cut flowers.

Members of the Iris family, Crocosmia hail from South Africa.  Numerous varieties are available ranging in height from 50cm to almost 2m! Surprisingly, even the tallest varieties are mostly self-supporting and require no staking. The one most commonly known in the UK, most frequently referred to as Montbretia, is a cross between two of the South African species. Unfortunately, this variety has not earnt itself a good reputation as it has a tendency to spread and run riot throughout the border, so you do need to be a little bit careful in smaller gardens. There are many other varieties to choose from however, so just be sure to select a clump forming variety which is much easier to control.

Crocosmia spreads by producing bulb-like corms.  It forms dense clumps as the round fat corms stack one on top of the other over successive years. Based on this principle you’d expect them to eventually pop out of the ground but this is not the case! The roots on the bottom corm pull the corms deeper into the ground when growing conditions permit.

Crocosmia is a fairly fool-proof plant to grow. Other than picking a suitable spot in well-drained, moisture retentive, soil in sun or partial shade, there is very little other care needed. It is hardy and wind tolerant, rabbits, deer, slugs and snails don’t really eat it and apart from a slight scattering of bone meal each spring to provide an early boost it needs next to nothing in terms of supplementary food.

Propagation can be done by seeds produced towards the end of the summer but this is unlikely to give you the same variety as the parent plant. A far better method of multiplying your stock is by division. The corms do tend to become overcrowded after a few years and their performance declines so in fact the plant will benefit from being taken up in the autumn and divided into 3 or 4 smaller clumps and replanted.

Henry Street Garden Centre has a selection of Crocosmia in store, all about to come into their own. Why not visit today and add a little bit of fiery sunset colour to your garden?



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