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Crocosmia For some reason, crocosmia are


frequently overlooked as star members of the garden clan. Yet, their brilliant scarlet blossoms will beckon viewers from a block away. A popular variety is ‘Lucifer’; their name is a testament to their fiery colour. Better known in the British Isles as


montbretias, crocosmia originate in the grasslands of South Africa and are hardy in zones 6 to 9. (‘Lucifer’ can be hardy to zone 5). The brilliant, tubular-shaped flowers,


which open sequentially over five to eight weeks, appear along an arching scape that can reach 100 cm (40 in) tall, nestled amongst narrow, sword-like foliage with a furrowed finish. A shorter variety, ‘Fire King’ grows to 60 cm (23 in). The corms are marble-sized and will


grow readily in any sunny spot – and a bonus: crocosmia are not high on the deer diet. Plant the corms right after the last frost about 10 cm (2 to 3 in) apart and 10 cm deep. A bit of bone meal at the bottom of the planting hole will give them a nice start. They can be slow to sprout so be patient and be sure the soil is warm enough to get them going. It may take several weeks for them to show. Caution: Be careful not to bump or


bruise the sensitive growing tip on the corm.


Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) The heavenly scent of tuberose on a


warm summer’s eve will have you believing that you have been floated away to Hawaii. Their waxy white or cream coloured blos- soms are used in the making of leis on the garden isles. Tuberose is legendary for its fragrance. It


is said that young girls in prudish Victorian times were forbidden to smell these allur- ing flowers for fear they might have spon- taneous orgasms. If you are old enough to remember the heady scent of Giorgio in the 1980s, you will have some idea of how seductive the fragrance is. ‘George David- son’, 60 cm (24 in) is yellow. Tuberose is hardy to zone 7 or 8 (its


origins are in Mexico), so the bulbs must be lifted after the first frost. In colder zones with shorter summers, they may need to be started indoors or under some kind of cover – they bloom 90 to 120 days after planting. A bonus is that cutting actually induces the plant to send up new flower spikes. Tuberoses need sunlight and well-


drained soil. They are heavy feeders, enjoy- ing a balanced fertilizer while they are growing. The bulbs come in clumps. Plant the undivided clump under two to three inches of soil.


24 • Spring 2015 Crocosmia can be slow to sprout.


Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) are very fragrant. localgardener.net


Photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.


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