Crocosmia crush

When I visited my friend Melody’s lovely San Antonio garden last fall, she gave me a division of a crocosmia. I was surprised to learn that crocosmia grows in central Texas, having seen it thriving in cool-summer gardens in Portland and Seattle. This isn’t the showy ‘Lucifer’, but its smaller flowers are still boldly colored and quite pretty on branching vertical stems atop grassy foliage.

Crocosmia is a bulb that’s related to gladiolus. There are, I’ve read, eight species and many cultivars, and Melody isn’t sure which one this is. From my own research I’m guessing maybe one of these three: ‘Fandango’, ‘Firefly’, or ‘Venus’.

Melody emailed me a few details: “I got mine at the Festival of Flowers plant exchange 4 years ago. I planted them in the front of a flower bed (they were only a few inches tall at the time) and kind of forgot about them. It took about 2 years for them to bloom, and the 3rd year they were so tall I moved them to the back next to the fence. I thought I’d got all of the bulbs from the original site, but the next year they came up there too. So last year I moved those to another location, and this year they are starting to bloom. And wouldn’t you know it, more came up this year in the original spot! It’s like a perpetual crocosmia breeding ground!”

They appear to be quite vigorous. I expect I’ll have a few divisions of my own in time!

They also appear to need staking, or at least the support of medium-height plants in front. A wider view reveals how the grassy foliage has fallen over, despite my attempts to prop it up with a metal tuteur and a hummingbird stake. The plant is leaning against the under-deck lattice, and while the gray paint makes a perfect backdrop to the orange flowers, I’d like to help the plant stand erect and be less floppy next year. I think a traditional, circular plant support should do the trick, but if anyone has another suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

To end my post, I offer a couple of gratuitous water lily close-ups.

Because water lilies are dreamy — and oh-so-easy to grow.

All material © 2006-2015 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

23 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    Congrats on your first Crocosmia. I hope it does well for you. I’ve never had any flop on me, so I can’t offer advice. It’s very pretty, much more delicate than Lucifer. If you ever come back to the PNW, you should check out Far Reaches Farm, they specialize in a wide variety of Crocosmia.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’d love to grow Lucifer, but I’ve never seen it here and therefore assume it can’t tolerate our heat/humidity combo. But maybe no one’s tried! (Ha) —Pam

  2. My crocosmia also flops. I figured because it doesn’t get full sun.I tie mine up with bamboo stakes and twine. They don’t care. They are such a happy flower. They look like fun because they arch over everything near them and dance in the wind. Love the water lilies. It is lily season.

  3. rickii says:

    I have stakes with bamboo crossbars that weave through my patch of ‘Lucifer’. Like you, I keep moving them from the original site, where they keep coming back, growing through shrubs that do a good job of holding them upright. When the deer are marauding, they often knock some over, which gives me an excuse to cut them for a vase. Yours are stunning against the dark background.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I bet they are pretty in a vase. I never think to cut any of my flowers, perhaps because I have so few. But maybe it’s just what’s needed for the 4th of July table! —Pam

  4. Melody says:

    My crocosmias flop over too – and I also thought it was because they are in the shade. I use some small metal fence type pieces that I got from the Dollar Tree to make a cage around them. The pieces are not very tall, so the plants still droop over gracefully, instead of just flopping on the ground – lol. I don’t know what cultivar mine are but they are more orangey than yours. I have had them for years and they were very well behaved, and then one year they started multiplying like crazy. I have given away dozens and dozens and they just keep coming back. I bought some yellow ‘George Davison’ crocosmias last year and there are at least 6 or 7 new plants for each one that I planted.

  5. Beth says:

    I grow mine in the afternoon shade in Central Texas. Mine flop too, but they’re mixed in with a jumble of other plants so I don’t tend to notice as much. My crocosmias are passalongs from my deceased aunt’s garden via my mom’s garden in Georgia, so they have sentimental value. I didn’t want to haul them home 1000 miles in our car, but I’m glad my mom insisted.

  6. Diana Studer says:

    now you are growing a South African plant!
    I’ve inherited some in this new garden. I’ve gathered them into 2 clumps as they are popping up all over.

    Maybe try planting the bulbs deeper, so the fans of leaves are supported? The bits I try to dig up seem to be deep down.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I have aloes too, which makes this South African plant #2. I may have even more, though I’ll have to stop and think about it. :-) Thanks for the tip about planting them deeply. —Pam

  7. Melody McMahon says:

    Pam, I’m so happy that the crocosmia are blooming for you the first year! When mine started blooming I thought of you!

    Love the water lilly photos! Thanks for adding beauty to my day!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Melody, thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of your garden with me! I’m reminded of you every time I see it, and especially now that it’s blooming. I hope my wavy prickly pear is growing well for you! —Pam

  8. TexasDeb says:

    The first time I saw a clump of these blooming a couple of years ago I was taking a different route than usual on a neighborhood walk and they stopped me dead in my tracks. They’d been placed in the center of a trio of largish yuccas and now I know why – to keep the stalks from flopping over.

    Those flowers can be absolutely breathtaking. It’s nice to know they multiply and naturalize so well in this part of the world. I’m betting we’ll be seeing more and more of them around town as friendly gardeners pass them along. Pam – did you notice if they attract bees or butterflies at all? Hummingbirds maybe?

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I’ve seen hummers over there. I haven’t noticed whether bees or butterflies are attracted. I’m kind of intriged by the idea of planting golden yuccas around them. —Pam

  9. Jeanette says:

    Beautiful Photographs. Pam, there is a green velcro tape (about 1/4″ wide) available. I have used it for glads. It is adjustable and reusable. I noticed the Arboretum uses a medium height plant in front of or throughout their tall spiky flowers to support the taller plants. ~J

  10. Beautiful! I’ve read they’re invasive in my climate so I haven’t grown them. But I do love how pretty they are. :o)

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Is that right, CM? I hope they don’t prove invasive here. Certainly, from what Melody has reported, they are aggressive here. Hmmm. —Pam

  11. Jennifer Brooks says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I live in Corpus Christi …. hot, hot, and humid. Don’t know if these would make it in my area but I’m willing to give it a whirl. Can you find these at nurseries in Texas or do you have to find someone who is sharing? Thank you!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      I really don’t know, Jennifer, since I only acquired mine as a passalong last fall. Melody, who gave it to me, said she’d gotten it at the Festival of Flowers plant exchange in San Antonio. If mine wasn’t brand-new I’d offer a division. Check back with me in a year if you haven’t found it. —Pam

      • Jennifer Brooks says:

        Thank you, Pam. That’s a nice offer. I’ve been intrigued by the plant since I saw a pretty photo of the blooms in a William Welch book. I’ll ask at a local nursery. Thanks again!!