Summer bulbs

Crocosmias Glow In The Heat

When the “feels like” temperatures are in triple digits, many annuals and perennials slow down or even stop blooming. This makes us appreciate those stalwarts that bloom through the hottest days of the year. One of these is Crocosmia (pronounced Crow-KAHZ-mee-ah).

Crocosmia leaves resemble gladiola or Siberian Iris. The blooms occur at the topmost part of a wiry stem. They last a long time as cut flowers. Blooms are most often red (‘Lucifer’ cultivar) or orange, occasionally yellow. Hummingbirds flock to all shades. They look especially great when paired with blue Salvia.

Crocosmia, sometimes called Montbretia, is a type of bulb known as a corm. Corms are much smaller than true bulbs like tulips or daffodils. They create a new bulb each year to sustain them through cold weather. These storage units stack themselves on top of each other, gradually developing into a loose chain, like a sleeve of Ritz crackers, only much smaller. The bond joining the corms is not strong, so they break apart when gardeners attempt to dig them up to relocate them. The corms left behind sprout into new plants, leading gardeners believe that they spread to the point of invasiveness.

Crocosmias are hardy in zones 6 to 10. They look best when planted in groups of 10 or more. Blooming is heaviest when the clumps of bulbs are divided every three years or so. Because they reproduce readily, many gardeners will be happy to share their divisions. They should be planted in full sun to light shade, in slightly acidic soil. Crocosmias are not browsed by deer or rabbits, and are usually ignored by slugs. A winner!

Orange Crocosmia glow when backlit by sunshine.

Orange Crocosmia glow when backlit by sunshine.