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Crocosmia (Montbretia)

Montbretia, Coppertips, Falling Stars

Crocosmia, montbretia, summer flowers, Crocosmia crocosmiiflora, crocosmia masoniorum, Crocosmia Lucifer, crocosmia Emberglow, crocosmia Mistral, crocosmia John Boots, crocosmia Solfatare, Crocosmia Babylon

Extremely showy and exotic-looking, Crocosmia is a genus in the Iridaceae family which includes eight species of crocosmia plants and many hybrids. It produces decorative clumps of erect sword-shaped leaves and brilliant wands of fiery scarlet, red, orange, and yellow tubular flowers which bloom for 5-8 weeks in summer and fall.

What is Crocosmia?

Crocosmia, native to grasslands of southern and eastern Africa, is a striking perennial plant known for its vibrant, iris-like flowers. They are great perennials for the late-season garden, providing weeks of vibrant colors when many other perennials start to fade.

  • Habit and Size: The plant grows in clumps with arching, sword-shaped, bright green leaves. Depending on the species, it can grow anywhere from 12 inches (30 cm) to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in height.
  • Foliage: Resembling the foliage of sword lilies, Crocosmia’s narrow, bladed leaves also provide interesting vertical accents in the borders.
  • Flowers: Crocosmia blooms from mid-summer through mid-fall, producing clusters of tubular flowers along the top side of the long, arching stems. Flower colors range from fiery red and orange to golden yellow, earning it the common names “montbretia” and “fire lily”. These flowers make excellent cut flowers, lasting up to 2 weeks in a vase.
  • Hardiness: It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10. It is tolerant of summer heat, humidity, drought, and salt.
  • Uses: In landscape design, Crocosmia is often used in borders, cottage gardens, and waterside planting schemes. Its bright, showy flowers add a touch of drama to the garden, and its long bloom period extends the season of color.
  • Wildlife Their vibrant colors attract hummingbirds and butterflies, making them a great addition to a pollinator garden. The vibrant blossoms give way to seedpods that persist into fall and attract hungry birds.
  • Deer and Rabbit: Crocosmia is resistant to deer and rabbit, making it a good choice for areas where these animals are common.
  • Toxicity: All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested.

As a key fact, despite its exotic appearance, Crocosmia is surprisingly hardy and requires minimal maintenance once established, making it a great option for both beginner and experienced gardeners.

Guide Information

Hardiness 6 - 10
Heat Zones 6 - 9
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Bulbs, Perennials
Genus Crocosmia
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 5'
(30cm - 150cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Banks And Slopes, Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage
Crocosmia ‘Bright Eyes’
Crocosmia ‘Emberglow’
Crocosmia ‘John Boots’

Why Should I Grow Crocosmia?

Growing Crocosmia in your garden can offer a range of benefits:

  • Striking Beauty: Crocosmia boasts unique and vibrant flowers that provide a dash of tropical flair. Their fiery red, orange, or golden hues stand out, making them a focal point in your garden.
  • Attract Wildlife: The vibrant flowers are a magnet for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and particularly hummingbirds. If you want to attract these delightful creatures to your garden, planting Crocosmia is a great choice.
  • Long Blooming Season: Crocosmia offers a long blooming period from mid to late summer, providing color in the garden when many other plants have finished blooming.
  • Low Maintenance: Once established, Crocosmia is surprisingly hardy and low maintenance. It’s drought-resistant and deer and rabbit resistant, which makes it a good choice for a wide range of climates and conditions.
  • Cut Flowers: The blooms are excellent for cutting and can be used to create striking floral arrangements.
  • Versatility: Crocosmia works well in a variety of garden settings, including borders, beds, and waterside planting schemes. Its clumping growth habit also makes it an effective ground cover.
  • Variety: With many different varieties available, you can choose a Crocosmia that perfectly suits your preferences for height, color, and flower shape.

By growing Crocosmia, you’ll be adding a plant to your garden that’s not only stunning but also versatile, hardy, and beneficial to local wildlife.

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Solfatare’
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Honey Angels’
Crocosmia ‘Limpopo’

Garden Design with Crocosmia

Designing a garden with Crocosmia can offer a stunning aesthetic due to its bright, bold colors and unique flower form. Here are some tips for integrating Crocosmia into your garden design:

  • Borders and Beds: Crocosmia can be a brilliant addition to borders and beds due to its tall, upright growth habit. Plant in clusters or drifts for a more dramatic effect. They add height to the middle or back of borders and pair well with perennials that bloom around the same time.
  • Cottage Gardens: Crocosmia’s vibrant colors and natural, relaxed growth habit make it a good fit for cottage-style gardens. It mixes well with a variety of other cottage garden plants.
  • Tropical-Themed Gardens: Although not a tropical plant, the bold, fiery colors of Crocosmia flowers can add a tropical feel to your garden. Combine with other brightly colored, exotic-looking plants for a vibrant, tropical-themed display.
  • Cutting Gardens: If you love to have fresh flowers in your home, consider adding Crocosmia to a cutting garden. Their long stems and lasting blooms make them excellent for floral arrangements.
  • Containers: Smaller varieties of Crocosmia can be grown in containers. This allows you to place bursts of color wherever you need it in your landscape.
  • Wildlife Gardens: The nectar-rich flowers of Crocosmia are a magnet for pollinators. Include them in a wildlife garden to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Color Theming: Use the bold colors of Crocosmia to set a color theme in your garden. Whether you want a fiery red and orange theme or a more muted theme using yellow varieties, Crocosmia can set the tone.
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Star of the East’ (Montbretia)
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Buttercup’
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Meteore’

Companion Plants

Crocosmia pairs well with many different types of plants that can complement its bold colors and enhance its display. Here are some good companion plants to consider:

  • Echinacea (Coneflower): Echinacea’s large, daisy-like flowers provide a nice contrast to the delicate, drooping flowers of Crocosmia.
  • Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan): Similar to Echinacea, Rudbeckia’s daisy-like flowers contrast nicely with Crocosmia, and they bloom around the same time.
  • Ornamental Grasses: The fine texture and neutral tones of ornamental grasses make them a great backdrop for the bold colors of Crocosmia. Examples include Panicum (Switchgrass) and Pennisetum (Fountain Grass).
  • Dahlia: Dahlia’s vibrant colors and large, complex flowers can stand up to the boldness of Crocosmia, creating a stunning display.
  • Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker): Kniphofia’s upright flower spikes echo the form of Crocosmia, and their similar color palette can create a striking display.
  • Salvia: The tall, spike-like flowers of Salvia can complement the form and colors of Crocosmia.
  • Asters: The delicate blooms of Aster and the fiery hues of Crocosmia create a captivating contrast, adding depth and visual interest to your landscape.
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed): These plants are perennials that bloom in late summer and fall, providing color in the garden when many other plants have finished blooming. The warm tones of Helenium’s daisy-like flowers are a perfect complement to the fiery shades of Crocosmia.
  • Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile): These plants feature large globes of blue or white flowers on tall stalks, providing a nice contrast to the drooping, arching flowers of Crocosmia. The blooming periods of Crocosmia and Agapanthus can also overlap, allowing for a stunning display.
  • Canna: With its tropical-looking foliage and bold flowers, Canna can add an exotic feel to the garden. The larger leaves of Canna can serve as a great backdrop for the slender, grass-like foliage of Crocosmia. Also, the blooming periods of Canna and Crocosmia can coincide, offering a vibrant, mixed display.
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Carmin Brilliant’
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Columbus’
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Emily Mckenzie’

Growing Tips

Crocosmia is a relatively easy plant to grow and does well in many garden settings. Here are some tips to help ensure your Crocosmia thrives:

  • Planting Time: Plant Crocosmia corms in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. They should be planted 3-5 inches (7-12 cm) deep and 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) apart.
  • Sunlight: Crocosmia prefers full sun, but they can also tolerate partial shade. However, the more sun they receive, the more flowers they will produce.
  • Soil: Crocosmia prefers well-drained soil. They are not too picky about soil pH, but a slightly acidic to neutral pH is ideal.
  • Watering: Water Crocosmia regularly, especially during dry periods. The soil should never be allowed to dry out completely.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring when new growth appears to promote vigorous growth and abundant flowering.
  • Pruning: Cut back the foliage after it has died back in the fall. This can help prevent diseases and pests.
  • Division: Crocosmia corms multiply rapidly and may need to be divided every 3-5 years to prevent overcrowding. This is best done in the fall after the foliage has died back. Dig up the corms, divide them, and replant.
  • Winter Care: In colder climates (zones 5 and below), it’s best to dig up the corms in fall and store them indoors in a cool, dry place over winter. Replant them in the spring after the danger of frost has passed.

With these care tips in mind, Crocosmia can be a delightful and vibrant addition to your garden. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies, making them an excellent choice for a wildlife-friendly garden.

Recommended Companion Plants

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Agapanthus (African Lily)
Achillea (Yarrow)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed Susan)
Salvia (Sage)
Helenium (Sneezeweed)
Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)

Garden Examples

A Wonderful Summer Border Idea with Easy-to-Grow Plants
A Sparkling Summer Border Idea with Easy-to-Grow Perennials
A Hot Summer Border Idea with Dahlia, Crocosmia and Aster
A Brilliant Summer Border Idea with Crocosmia, Agapanthus and Grasses
A Brilliant Summer Border Idea with Crocosmia, Dahlia and Canna Lilies
A Superb Summer Border Idea with Coneflowers, Crocosmia, Hyssop & Phlox
Compare All Crocosmia
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Crocosmia
Guides with
Crocosmia
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 6 - 10
Heat Zones 6 - 9
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Bulbs, Perennials
Genus Crocosmia
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 5'
(30cm - 150cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit
Attracts Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Banks And Slopes, Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Crocosmia
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Crocosmia
Guides with
Crocosmia

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