Crocosmias montbretia

Strictly speaking ‘bulbs’ (actually corms), but treated as fleshy-rooted, hardy perennials. They have iris-like foliage, and trumpet-shaped scarlet, orange-red and yellow flowers in late summer – early autumn.

Suitable site and soil. All well-drained garden soils except really stiff clay are suitable. In mild areas the old-fashioned common montbretia can be invasive in sun or part shade but modern hybrids prefer full sun and are good border plants.

Cultivation and care. Crocosmias can be left alone without attention for many years and will continue to flower happily. 5

Propagation. Easy by simple division in early spring. Replant the divisions immediately.

Recommended varieties. The common montbretia is Crocosmia x crocosrniiflora, with nodding, vermilion-orange flowers, but it usually confused with the similar C. maso-norum, whose flowers look up. Most of the varieties sold are hybrids, such as ‘Bressingham Beacon’ with orange buds opening to bicoloured yellow and orange flowers, growing to 90cm – 3ft in summer; ‘Citronella’ with yellow flowers, growing 60cm – 2ft in mid to late summer; ‘Emily McKenzie’ with nodding dark orange flowers, but non-invasive, growing to 60cm – 2ft in mid to late summer; ‘Lucifer’ with brilliant scarlet flowers, growing to 120cm – 4ft early summer; ‘Solfataire’ with apricot-yellow flowers, growing to 60cm – 2ft in mid to late summer.

Pests and diseases. Trouble-free.

COLOUR MIXES

Cool and integrate the bright oranges and reds of montbretia by planting them with blue flowers (agapanthus, summer caenothus), soft yellow flowers (for example, varieties of hemerocallis) and – or silver foliage.

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