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Crocosmias: a beautiful, structural plant for summer and early autumn garden borders

Crocosmias, more commonly known as montbretia, are eye-catching, clump-forming, drought-tolerant border perennial plants, which produces lush green, iris-like foliage topped by arching spikes of freesia-like blooms throughout the summer and through to early autumn. They’re a firm favourite in the British summer garden, and are reliable, hardy and very tolerant plants.

Crocosmia plants are easy to grow. They grow best in full sun. Plant in in rich, loose garden soil. If the soil is heavy or doesn’t drain well, mix in a generous amount of sand. Plant corms four to five inches deep, and four inches apart. Water during planting, only if the soil is dry. Keep soil moist, not wet. Add fertilizer only if the soil is poor. After the plants have died back in the autumn, they can be cut back to ground level. In cold areas, add a generous amount of mulch, to protect the corms from freezing. Or, dig them up and store them for replanting in the spring.

Whilst most garden centres will generally stock Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Ladybrook Nursery prefers to stock less well-known, but equally beautiful varieties. Here are 5 of our favourites:

Crocosmia ‘Ember Glow’

Crocosmia ‘Ember glow’ is a clump-forming, deciduous perennial with upright, lance-shaped, mid-green leaves and dark red flowers in arching, branching spikes in summer. ‘Ember Glow’ will reach a height of 1m and a spread of 0.08m after 2-5 years, and is ideally suited for cottage/informal gardens, beds and borders and city gardens. Plant in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade. Divide clumps in spring.  

Type: perennial

Height: 1m

Foliage: green

Flower colour: deep red

Flowering: summer

Aspect: full sun or partial shade

Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’

Crocosmia ‘George Davidson’ is a clump-forming, deciduous perennial with upright, lance-shaped, mid-green leaves and yellow/orange flowers in arching, branching spikes throughout the summer months. ‘George Davidson’ will eventually reach a height of 1m and a spread of 40-50cm in 2 to 5 years. Plant in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade, preferably with a south, west or east-facing aspect. Divide clumps in spring.  

Type: perennial

Height: 1m

Foliage: green

Flower colour: yellow/orange

Flowering: summer

Aspect: partial shade

Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’

Crocosmia ‘Emily McKenzie’ is a clump-forming deciduous perennial with an upright habit. Its narrow, sword-shaped foliage is green. In summer it bears sprays of brick red buds which open into bright orange-red flowers with yellow centres. ‘Emily McKenzie’ will reach a height of 0.6m and a spread of 0.1m after 2-5 years, and is ideally suited for cottage/informal gardens, beds and borders and city gardens. Plant in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade. Divide clumps in spring.  

Type: perennial

Height: 60cm

Foliage: green

Flower colour: bright orange

Flowering: late summer/early autumn

Aspect: full sun or partial shade

Crocosmia ‘Babylon’

Crocosmia ‘Babylon’ produces clumps of erect, bright green, sword-shaped leaves and delicate sprays of star-like flowers in late summer which are of a vibrant red-orange colour and have a scarlet throat. ‘Babylon’ will reach a height of 0.75m and a spread of 0.5m after 2-5 years, and is ideally suited for cottage/informal gardens, beds and borders and city gardens. Plant in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade. Divide clumps in spring.  

Type: perennial

Height: 75cm

Foliage: green

Flower colour: red/orange

Flowering: late summer early autumn

Aspect: full sun or partial shade

Crocosmia ‘Red King’

Crocosmia ‘Red King’ is a compact, clump-forming, deciduous perennial with upright, lance-shaped, narrow, mid-green leaves and, from midsummer to mid-autumn, dark, arching, branched stems bearing racemes of funnel-shaped, red flowers with yellow/orange centres. ‘Red King’ will reach a height of 0.6m and a spread of 0.4m after 2-5 years, and is ideally suited for cottage/informal gardens, beds and borders and city gardens. Plant in moderately fertile, humus-rich soil in sun or partial shade. Divide clumps in spring, and mulch well in cold areas to protect from frost.  

Type: perennial

Height: 60cm

Foliage: green

Flower colour: yellow/orange

Flowering: late summer to autumn

Aspect: full sun or partial shade

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