old-fashioned crocosmia has numerous garden
applications from the cottage, to the tropical and
eve as a partner to white hydrangeas.
is the time to shop for those summer blooming bulbs like
the Crocosmia or Monbretia. Often we as garden writers
are guilty of writing about what is currently in bloom.
In the case of summer blooming bulbs this would mean you
probably won’t be able to buy them for several months.
We all have trouble enough with the grocery list much
less a plant that someone wrote about 9 months ago.
plant is native to South Africa and is an old-time
favorite in the southern United States. When I lived in
an old house built in the late 1800’s in Mississippi,
this was one of the delights that popped up in several
places. Despite its heirloom status, it is always
showing up in bulb catalogues.
foliage is sword like with flowers borne on stems 15- to
24-inches long and bloom for a really long period of
time. Typically, the flower stems branch and curve
slightly, baring two rows of buds. You can tell they are
in the Iris family and have resemblances to both the
gladiola and the Iris domestica, also called blackberry
name comes from the Greek words "krokos"
meaning saffron and "osme" meaning smell,
referring to the saffron aroma the dried flowers give
off when immersed in water. There are choices in reds,
yellows and oranges and two-tones as well as actual
you think you will have a devil of the time remembering
this plant, keep that in mind and shop for the variety
Lucifer known for its fiery red color. An old variety,
Emily McKenzie, has orange flowers and a red throat. If
you like bi-colored selections, look also for the orange
and yellow Bressingham Beacon or the red and yellow
plants are perfect for the tropical garden. I have had
some Crocosmia intermingled with tall monkey grass, or
liriope. But my favorite is to have them planted among
banana trees. While the banana stalks or pseudostems are
neat as accents, the added flowers of the Crocosmia make
a unique display at the base. The dappled shade provided
by the banana leaves seems ideal.
of the prettiest displays that I have seen took a lot of
courage to try and the gardeners probably should be
given some sort of award. The combination planting had
orange and red Crocosmia combined with the bright blue
of the Lily of the Nile. Here at the Coastal Georgia
Botanical Garden we have them planted with white
of my friends who grow Crocosmia think of it as a
perennial, perfect for the cottage garden where it will
be combined with daylilies or salvias. The yellow
selections partner well with purple coneflowers and of
course its relative the blackberry lily.
are also great as cut flowers used with grasses, zinnias
or gingers. Condition them with warm 100-degree water
before placing in the vase. Another oddity about this
plant is that cut-flower marketers sell the Crocosmia
not only as a cut flower but also sell it loaded with
bright green seedpods that are very effective in the
Crocosmia is cold hardy from zones 6-10 and is best
planted in the spring before the weather gets flaming
hot. This sets up well for this time of the year as you
no doubt have catalogues pouring in to your home. Be
bold and plant a dozen in your drift or sweep.
not always the new plant that makes the garden, but
sometimes it’s new uses for old heirlooms. Try some
Crocosmia this year and see if you agree.