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April 2008
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Grow Crocosmia Plants

Perennial crocosmias range from the bright canary yellows to the flashy tomato reds. Plant them bursting out of a group of quieter colours or in a subtropical border packed with hothouse colours. Although Crocosmia are half hardy bulbs they are usually grown as annuals by gardeners. they have leaves that look like swords, these carry inflorescences that have red or orange funnel like flowers. Crocosmia comes into bloom in the summer months. Common names for Crocosmia include Montbretia and copper top. They make ideal border plants.
The name ‘Crocosmia’ originats from a combination – crocosmia from the Greek krokos, meaning saffron, and osme meaning smell, alluding to the saffron scent given off by the dried flowers when placed in water. The alternate name ‘Montbretia’ got its name from Antoine François Ernest Conquebert de Monbret who was the botanist that accompanied Napoleon on his Egypt campaign in 1798.
The foliage reaches about 3 feet in height. The flowers, borne on stems up to 2 feet long, bloom for a long time. Typically, the flower stems branch and curve slightly, bearing two rows of buds. You can tell they are related to the gladiola.
It is perhaps easiest to grow Crocosmia from corms; If you go with corms, set them in the ground 2 to 3 inches deep and 8 to 10 inches apart. The corms are best planted in the fall for blooms the following spring.
If growing from seeds then they should be sown in the spring, just cover the seeds with topsoil. Plants seeds in seed trays, about 1/4″ deep, in seed starting soil.
They grow best in full sun. Plant in in rich, loose garden soil. If the soil is heavy or doesn’t drain well, mix in a generous amount of sand. Plant corms four to five inches deep, and four inches apart. Water if the soil is dry; and avoid keeping the soil wet, keeping it moist is a better bet. Once established, crocosmias require only the minimum of care, but in cold areas it’s worth covering plants with a deep mulch of well-rotted compost or straw in winter. If the plants are being planted into containers, put them in big pots with big drainage holes, and keep them well-watered. However, if the soil is water-logged, the roots will rot.
Plants that aren’t flowering freely can be divided in the spring. Split them into small clusters and replant in soil enriched with compost, and give a sprinkling of general fertiliser.

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