how to plant, grow & care for crocosmia
complete growing guide
Summer is the season of bold colour in the garden – hot colours such as reds and oranges can clamour to create a spectacular display and nothing contributes more vibrantly than crocosmia. The rich, warm colours of this lovely group of bulbous perennials (originally from South Africa), comes from fiery flowers on arching spikes and long green foliage.
Even without its hot flowers, cocosmia’s slender green leaves sway pleasingly in a breeze creating movement through the flower beds. The sword-like foliage of any crocosmia helps to break up the monotony of mound-forming perennials, and some form large clumps of excellent foliage for mixed border combinations.
Browse our range of corms and young crocosmia plants for a vibrant addition to your summer garden.
- Common name Montbretia
- Latin name Crocosmia
- Type Perennial
- Height 60cm (2ft) to 1.2m (4ft)
- TLC rating Easy
- Aspect Full Sun
- Planting position Back and middle of border
- Suitable for pots Yes
- Good for pollinators Yes
- Good for cut flowers Yes
how to grow crocosmia
where to grow crocosmia
Soil type: Light, well-drained and moist soil is best for planting crocosmia corms and plants. On heavy soil, add plenty of grit to the planting position to improve drainage.
Aspect & position: Pick a position in full sun to get the best from your crocosmia, though it will tolerate light shade.
when to plant crocosmia
Plant crocosmia corms in early spring and young plants in late-spring to early summer.
how to plant crocosmia
In early spring, plant crocosmia corms about 10-15cm (4-6in) apart and 10cm (4in) deep. They are best planted in light, well-drained soil. On heavy soil, you’ll need to add plenty of grit to the planting holes.
In late-spring to early summer, plant out young crocosmia plants – these are really effective planted in groups of three or more. Choose a position in full sun and plant in moist but well-drained soil. Sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi (Rootgrow) into the base of the planting hole and water well after planting.
growing crocosmia in a pot
Crocosmias will grow well in pots. However, choose one of the shorter, less vigorous varieties when planting with other species, as some varieties can take over. You can also plant them in pots by themselves to control their vigour and avoid competition. Add broken pots at the base of the container to aid drainage, and add fertiliser regularly to keep the display looking good.
how to care for crocosmia
Water during periods of drought, and water containers regularly when the plants are starting to flower and when growing at full tilt.
Crocosmia growing in the ground won’t need extra feed, but add fertiliser regularly to plants growing in containers to keep the display looking good.
When the leaves are completely brown they can be pulled gently and will come away cleanly from the corm, rather than leaving stubs sticking out of the ground. You can cut faded flowers at the base of the stem, but the seedheads offer structure and interest through winter. The plant should be cut to ground level in early spring before the new foliage emerges.
Crocosmia corms multiply each year and clumps can become congested, leading to reduced flowering and vigour. Established plants can be lifted and divided every 3 to 4 years. Carefully separate the corms and replant the top-most corms, which will produce vigorous plants for the coming season.
Crocosmia hardiness varies according to species, but here in Sussex I leave all of mine in the ground in winter, giving them a good, deep mulch before the autumn frosts. In frost pockets, lift the corms in autumn and store them over winter in a frost-free place to plant again in mid-spring. With those left in the garden, note the deadheading advice, and cut to ground level in early spring before the new foliage emerges.
- In early spring, plant corms direct in borders and pots.
- In late spring, plant young plants in borders and pots.
- Water crocosmia plants in pots through summer.
- Feed any container-grown crocosmia.
- Add a good layer of mulch before the autumn frosts.
- Plan which varieties of crocosmia you’d like to grow the following spring.
pests, diseases & common issues
red spider mite
These microscopic spiders are really hard to spot until the infestation has built up, which is most likely to occur during hot, dry summers. Possible signs include silvery webbing under the leaves as well as symptoms on the plant, including mottled colouring on leaves. Spray foliage with water to help reduce the chance of spider mites.
why is my crocosmia not flowering?
If your crocosmia plants have been in the ground for a few years, the multiplying corms may have become congested. Lift and divide them to improve vigour. Crocosmia also need a good deal of sun to flower well, so ensure a sunny and sheltered position.
why are my crocosmia leaves turning brown?
It could be gladiolus rust, which is a fungal disease that can affect crocosmia, particularly in humid conditions. Symptoms include brown or yellow spots on the underside of the leaves. Remove any affected leaves as soon as you spot them.
why do my crocosmia not stand up straight?
After a few years, taller varieties of crocosmia can form large clumps and the plants have a tendency to flop if they become congested or are in an exposed, windy site. Lift and divide clumps that have become too big or consider staking tall varieties.
is my crocosmia suffering from rot?
Waterlogged soil can lead to crocosmia corms succumbing to bacteria and rot. Make sure soil is well-drained and the plants are in a sunny position.
frequently asked questions
is crocosmia invasive?
It can take a year or two for crocosmia to establish, and some (such as Crocosmia × crocosmiiflora) can become invasive over time.
how tall do crocosmia grow?
Some varieties grow up to to 1.2m (4ft), but you can find shorter varieties, such as crocosmia 'Peach Sunrise' which grows up to 60cm (2ft).
are crocosmia deer resistant?
Yes, crocosmia is known to be deer resistant.
do crocosmia spread?
Crocosmia corms multiply and spread each year. Make sure to lift and divide congested clumps every few years.
when should you cut back crocosmia?
Cut back crocosmia in spring to encourage vigorous growth.
are crocosmia best in sun or shade?
Crocosmia are best in full sun but will tolerate light shade.
how deep should you plant crocosmia corms?
Plant corms in light, well-drained soil about 10cm (4in) deep.
how long does it take for crocosmia bulbs to sprout?
It takes around 4-6 weeks for shoots to emerge.
is crocosmia poisonous to humans?
Crocosmia is potentially mildly harmful to humans and pets.
what to grow with crocosmia
For a warm display, try alongside a sunshine yellow gaillardia or peachy orange Coreopsis lanceolata. And for shorter varieties, crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ looks good among Verbena bonariensis and tall dark dahlias.
how to cut & arrange crocosmia
Cut crocosmia stems early in the morning, cutting right at the base of the stem. Plunge into cold water and leave for a few hours before arranging. Crocosmia lasts up to 14 days in water – refresh every few days and add a splash of vinegar to the vase water to reduce the build up of bacteria.
Get more inspiration for displaying your flowers with our flower arranging videos and articles: