HARDY PERENNIALS: CROCOSMIA

C. masonorum. For years this charming plant languished in obscurity because it was believed not to be hardy. Since 1963 however, its ability to withstand severe winter frost had been abundantly proved, and it has come in for the popularity it richly deserves. It grows from corms which build up so that one corm of a previous years making, remains attached to the new one above. Because the lower one acts as a storage reserve, they should not be separated, but left intact when planting to ensure flowering. Natural increase is made from rhizomes which form a shoot and subsequently, new corms, so that after two years in one position, there should be 3 or 4 which will flower as soon as they reach maturity. As with their relatives, Montbretia, Antholyza and Curtonus, Crocosmia prefers a sunny position and well drained soil. The sword-blade leaves stand erectly, reaching up to 2 feet by mid-summer by which time the slender stems 2 ½ to 3 feet tall are ready to flower, arching out at the top to make a telling display. Unlike some of its relatives, C. masonorum opens its flowers to the sun—and to the eye, remaining colourful for many weeks. Colour varies slightly from orange to flame, and apart from being so effective as a garden plant, it is outstanding for floral decorations. Quite recently, some crosses have been made between this and both Antholyza and Montbretia, which increase the colour range and widen the flowering period, and named selections will probably be introduced in 1972. Planting depth of these and C. masonorum should be 3 inches below surface, preferably in spring.

CROCOSMIA masonorum

CROCOSMIA masonorum

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