Scientific Name: Crocosmia
Common Names: Montbretia
Plant Type: Perennial plants
Environment: Plant corms in full sun or light shade and well-drained, well-amended soil. Best to plant in the late Autumn after seeing the plant flowering so you are sure of the variety you want. Harvest cut flowers when the first two to three florets open. Save some to mature to seedpods which are also attractive. Propagate by division or by lifting and removing offsets of the corms. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place. Some cultivars of this plant spread rampantly in the Bay Area.
Bloom: Flowers in late Summer/Fall months.
Uses: Great as a cut flower, profuse bloomer. Attracts pollinators to the garden.
A very complete book with lovely illustrations Crocosmia and Chasmanthe, (Timber Press 2004) by Manning, Goldblatt and Dunlop.
Crocosmia can be found in the Rhododendron Garden in Beds 28, 72 and 73.
"Golden Swan,” or “Falling Stars,” are names South Africans give to this spectacular member of the Iris family. Crocosmia blooms are funnel shaped, floriferous, and grow one-sided on tall spikes, their arching stems rising from mounds of glossy strap-like leaves. The brilliant petals mute into shades of scarlet to yellow to orange, with stamens and stigmas flaring out beyond their coronas. Perennial favorites in cool moist gardens, some Crocosmia cultivars flourish even in sunny and drier locations.
Crocosmia comes from the Greek words “Krokos”, for crocus, specifically saffron crocus, and osme, or “smell” because the crushed leaves were thought to smell like saffron. They are native to Africa from Capetown to Tanzania and Madagascar. Wild varieties were brought to England two centuries ago and became a favorite in English gardens where many cultivars were created.
"Love it or hate it,” say some horticulturists, who liken Crocosmia to a weed for it naturalizes easily, and appears sometimes unplanted and unwanted in San Francisco gardens. It grows from cormlets, thick, short, underground stems which break off easily, developing into new plants. Walk in the rhododendron dell and you will find many to admire.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil, Profile Contributor: Fred Bové