Crocosmia species -

If you live in a northern European climate then hardy, truly red flowering plants are going to be in short supply. Therefore, if you are making up a top ten list (if you can find that many) Crocosmia species are a very easy win, and should be right at the top of the list.

Crocosmia 'Hellfire'-
Native to the grasslands of southern Africa, Crocosmia species grow from small corms which produce upright, sword-shaped leaves and branched spikes of showy, funnel-shaped flowers in summer.

They are a good source of nectar for beneficial insects, but where they are grown in the southern United States they make a popular feed plant for hummingbirds!

One of the most popular cultivated varieties is Crocosmia 'Lucifer'. It is a hardy, clump-forming, perennial with sprays of vivid red flowers on stems to 1.2m in height. However, if you want an even deeper red then then consider Crocosmia 'Hellfire'.

Crocosmias require open, sandy, well-drained soil, but come the summer they are going to need plenty of water.

If you are planting corms in the spring, plant them 4-6 inches apart and 2-3 inches deep to form makeshift clumps. They will prefer the south side of a sheltered wall, or among groups of shrubs and perennials.

Crocosmias are easily propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in the spring.

How to overwintering Crocosmia

Crocosmia corms - Image credit
In particularly cold areas you may wish to lift the corms, remove the soil and leaves and dry off over winter in a frost free environment.

Storage can be difficult because the corms will rot off if kept damp. The trouble is, if they are kept too dry then they can shrivel up and die!

In warmer areas where frosts are unlikely to penetrate down to the corms, the corms can be left in place.

Just cut the dead leaves down to soil level in early March before the new foliage begins to emerge.

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