Crocosmia crocosmia, montbretia

Height: 60-75cm (2-2 1/22ft)

Planting distance: 10-15cm (4-6in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: sandy, well-drained

Site: open, sun

Type: corm

A clump of crocosmias, with their sword-shaped, green leaves and profuse sprays of orange flowers, presents a cheerful sight in summer and early autumn. They 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 various shades of red, orange and yellow, and are excellent for flower arranging.

Popular species and varieties:

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora, also known as montbretia, has orange flowers lasting from mid summer to late autumn. The hardiest member of the family, it will survive all but the harshest winters if it is given a warm, sheltered position. It spreads rapidly, so allow plenty of room.

Cultivars: 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’ (orange-red flowers), ‘Citronella’ (golden yellow), ‘Emberglow’ (orange-red), ‘Jackanapes’ (bi-coloured yellow and orange), ‘Solfatarc’ (apricot-yellow flowers with bronze-flushed leaves), ‘Spitfire’ (fiery orange) and ‘Vulcan’ (orange-red). Mixed collections of

These varieties are available from some nurseries.

Crocosmia masonorum is a robust plant with orange-red blooms that appear in succession in mid and late summer. These are smaller than those of the hybrids and packed together more densely on an arching stem.

Cultivation

Plant the conns about 10-15cm (4-6in) apart and 7.5cm (3in) deep in clumps in early spring.

Crocosmias need sandy, well-drained soil and an open, sunny site. 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 of 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.

In early spring, remove the dead leaves of plants left in the ground before the new foliage appears.

Propagation: Divide clumps every three years, cither just after flowering or before the new growth starts in spring.

Pests and diseases: Trouble free.

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