Height 60-75cm (2 – 2-1/2ft)
Planting distance 10-15cm (4-6in)
Flowers mid summer to early autumn
Sunny sheltered location
Corms available from early to late spring
A clump of crocosmias presents a cheerful sight in summer and early autumn with their sword-shaped green leaves and profuse sprays of orange. They like well-drained soil and sun, and spread rapidly, so give them plenty of room – sunny banks are a favourite spot, but they also look attractive planted in clumps among shrubs or herbaceous perennials. The tubular flowers are held on wiry stems 60cm (2ft) tall. They come in varying shades of orange or yellow, depending on variety, and are excellent for flower arranging.
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, popularly known as montbretia, has orange flowers opening from mid summer to late autumn. In the milder parts of Britain it has naturalized on banks, in hedges and on rough ground. Being the hardiest member of the genus, it will survive all but the harshest winters, if it is given a warm sheltered position. It spreads rapidly, so allow plenty of room. Several varieties, which are less rampant, have been developed from C. x crocosmiiflora. They offer the gardener almost every shade of orange, as well as yellow and red: ‘Bressingham Blaze’ and ‘Ember-glow’ are orange-red; ‘Emily McKenzie’ is deep orange with crimson-brown markings; ‘Jackanapes’ is yellow or orange; ‘Lucifer’ (90cm/3ft) is brilliant flame red and early flowering; ‘Solfatare’ is apricot yellow with bronze-flushed leaves; ‘Spitfire’ is fiery orange; and ‘Vulcan’ is orange-red. Mixed collections of these varieties are available from some nurseries.
Crocosmia masonorum has bright orange blooms that appear in succession in mid and late summer. These are smaller than those of the hybrids and packed together more densely on arching stems.
Plant the corms about 10-15cm (4-6in) apart and 7.5cm (3in) deep in clumps in early spring. They need open, well-drained soil and full sun. C. masonorum. Prefers a site where it can be left undisturbed. Water regularly in the summer. In mid autumn, cover the root area with a winter mulch -bracken or dry leaves. If your garden is in a frost pocket, lift the corms, dry them off and store in a frost-free place. Remove the dead leaves of plants left in the ground in early spring, before the new foliage appears.
Divide clumps every three years, either just after flowering or before the new growth starts in spring.
Pests and diseases