Calling all hummingbirds! Crocosmias’ graceful arching stems of petite red, orange and yellow flowers are beacons to hummers in search of a nectar-rich meal. These easy-to-grow corms (a bulb-like structure) unfurl their fiery flowers in midsummer and fall when the rest of the garden is often languishing in the heat. Count on crocosmia, also called montbretia, to add a burst of color and whimsical interest year-after-year.
Crocosmia's sword-shape leaves and thin, arching stems offer great contrast to other garden plants in beds and containers. Plant a clump of crocosmia alongside other boldly colored late-summer bloomers such as black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), coreopsis, dahlia, and blanket flower (Gaillardia × grandiflora). Contrasting color companions include aster, flowering tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris), and globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus).
Crocosmia Care Must-Knows
Crocosmia is hardy in Zones 6 through 10. Some nurseries stock small crocosmia plants in nursery pots but the greatest selection of crocosmia cultivars is usually available as corms. These bulblike structures are planted in spring or fall. When planted in spring, they may not bloom until the following season.
Plant crocosmia corms 3 to 5 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart in full sun and moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, you may need to enrich the soil by incorporating a 2-inch layer of well-decomposed compost. For the best bloom show and quick, easy planting, plant a dozen or more of the same cultivar in a trench.
Staking is sometimes required for the tallest crocosmia cultivars. Sink a stake into the ground near the corms and loosely tie about three flower stems to it using garden twine. Crocosmia is known for its ability to multiply quickly. Plan to dig and divide corms every three or four years in early spring just before growth starts. Replant the corms or share extras with friends.
Crocosmia's arching stems make it a unique addition to any flower arrangement. Give this plant extra care right after cutting and it will last for more than a week in a vase. First, cut stems when the first few flowers at the bottom of the spike are just opening. Remove the leaves from the stems and recut them. Immerse the stems in warm water up to the point where the flowers emerge. Place the vase in a cool, dark place for 48 hours, then move it to a bright spot and enjoy your handiwork.
More Varieties of Crocosmia
'Ember Glow' Crocosmia
Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora 'Ember Glow' has vibrant upward-facing scarlet flowers that open wide to reveal golden throats. Zones 6-9
Crocosmia 'Lucifer' offers arching spikes of scarlet flowers in mid- to late summer. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Zones 6-9