Growing Freesias Outdoors

Freesias for outdoors must open up a new popularity for this plant for not all possess a greenhouse or frame, but a hardy strain has been evolved from many of the best of the older-named varieties, which if given slight protection from heavy July rain appear to grow and bloom quite satisfactorily, especially in the south. They do better in the dry climate of south-eastern England than in the wetter West Country.

I have not yet tried out these plants in the exposed north, but from all accounts they seem satisfactory. They should be planted about May 1st when all fear of severe frost has departed. Place the corms 3 in. deep and into a soil containing plenty of peat or leaf mould. They also enjoy some cow manure which will tend to keep the soil cool during summer. But position seems more important than soil requirements. Growing Freesias Outdoors

They enjoy full sunshine and yet must be protected from strong winds. Even where this protection is provided the foliage and flower stems will require the assistance of twigs to prevent damage. It has been suggested to me that the corms should be planted in clumps amongst heather or some other woody plant with a dwarf habit. This will not only provide some protection from rain, but some support for the plants. A barn-type cloche placed over the clumps at times of heavy rain would possibly be better but as yet there has been little experience with the outdoor freesias and more time must elapse before commenting in detail as to their possibilities as a commercial cut-flower crop.

UNDER CLOCHE CULTIVATION

From experience, this could well be a most profitable late-summer crop, especially in southern districts. I have grown refracta alba in a sandy soil in Somerset and covered by barn-type cloches they flowered to perfection during late August. The corms were planted in trenches especially prepared by incorporating some peat and cow manure and a dusting of bone meal. The trenches were got ready in March and allowed to settle down before planting the corms 1 in. deep and 3 in. apart early in April. The trench was covered with barn cloches both before and im mediately after planting and the only moisture provided was by the rain itself, the amount percolating under the cloches being sufficient for the corms. Small twigs were placed amidst the foliage as soon as it appeared and no further attention was given the plants until cutting time. They proved a profitable crop and were almost as successful when planted in frames at the same time, though the all-glass cloches did bring about earlier flowering and a more sturdy flowering stem.

During the next decade it is not difficult to foresee great improvements being made on the freesia, stronger stems, extra hardiness and maybe a dwarf flowering ‘break’ which would be of the utmost value to pot-plant growers. Maybe the price of seed will become cheaper and the freesia will be a flower for the million rather than for the millionaire. But the hybridists must be careful to retain the deliciously sweet perfume which refracta possesses to the full and which several of the recent hybrids are tending to lose. The charm of the freesia lies in its fragrance equally as in its graceful habit and delicate colouring.

DISEASES

A damping-off of the young seedlings may be experienced should the soil not have been sterilized and the disease spores may be present. The seed when sown should be watered with Cheshunt Compound and again when the young foliage can first be seen. This will prevent the seedlings from being attacked by the trouble but will be of no value in curing the disease if applied when it has made its presence felt. Where sterilized soil can be obtained this will ensure that no spores of the damping off disease is present.

PESTS

I know of no serious trouble from pests though slugs may attack the young foliage of seedlings in frames and that of newly planted corms under cloches. A new proprietary brand of liquid slug-killer, non-poisonous to humans and animals, with which the plants are occasionally watered, should prevent trouble.

Freesia Hybrids

  • Apotheose. A lovely variety producing large flowers of a deep mauve-pink colour with an attractive white throat.
  • Buttercup. The best pure yellow freesia in cultivation and which has received an Award of Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Cole d’Azure. A superb variety producing an abundance of bright sky-blue flowers on long stems.
  • Mauve .Queen. Produces its rich purple-mauve flowers in abundance and on strong stems.
  • Orchidea. The largest of all freesia blooms and produced on the longest stems. The colour is pale mauve with an attractive yellow throat.
  • Robinetta. A lovely rich crimson-red with a white throat and very free flowering.
  • Treasure. Its pale yellow blooms, shaded deep orange and lilac are enchanting and possess a rich fragrance.

BARTLEY FREESIAS

  • Alison Johnsteme. The pure white blooms produced on short sturdy stems make this an ideal pot plant.
  • Apricot. The blooms are a rich apricot and tall growing, more suitable for cutting than for pots.
  • Golden Harvest. An outstanding variety, free-flowering and of a bright golden yellow colour.
  • Gwendolyn. A later flowering variety of a lovely shade of soft pink.
  • Magon. The best sky-blue for cloche and greenhouse cutting. It is early and produces a large bloom of fine texture.
  • Rosalind. A grand variety for pots as it is very dwarf. The blooms are of a delicate rosy pink.
  • Yellow Hammer. A lovely early flowering yellow for cutting, being large-flowered and a vigorous grower.

THE QUEEN HYBRIDS

This range won for Messrs. R. H. Bath, Limited, a Gold Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society. They are large flowering and carry a strong perfume.

  • Bronze Queen. Quite a new colour in freesias, the large, strongly stemmed blooms possessing a rich fragrance and being of a deep orange bronze colour.
  • Lemon Queen. Late flowering and producing bloom of a delightful soft yellow colour and strongly fragrant.
  • Magenta Queen. Deep magenta-rose, an unusual shade and wonderful under artificial lights.
  • Violet Queen. Another unique colour, the petal base being white and merging into rich violet colouring – the lower petals being veined deep purple. A very large flowering freesia.

DOUBLE FREESIAS

There is now on the market a true double-flowering freesia, the colour being creamy white and possessing a rich scent, which will possibly be the forerunner of many lovely double varieties in the future.

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