Satisfy Summer Color Cravings with Easy Care Crocosmia

Posted on: June 20, 2014
Croscosmia Explosion flowers

A parking strip garden in SE Portland, OR across from Laurelhurst Park. The gardener used to work for a huge wholesale company that sold unusual bulbs.

Crocosmia flowers mean summer has arrived!

Having grown up in Oregon I can’t really trust summer is here until I see those intense red, orange or yellow trumpets!

In Portland,  they typically start to flower in late June into early July. The variety Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is the local favorite because of the intense crimson hummingbird attracting flower. Plus it’s one tough plant that comes back even in adverse situations.

The Good News
Crocosmia are perfect for color cravers. The long, strappy stems are great in a vase and beloved by hummingbirds. They are tough and clients think they are extremely low maintenance.

So What’s Not to Love?
Crocosmia as a group can be aggressive spreaders – especially for small urban gardens. Lucifer reaches 36″-42” tall and has a tendency to flop halfway through summer. The corms need to be divided frequently to keep these issues in line. To me, that is not low maintenance.  I have better, findable replacements to add to your summer garden before you give Lucifer the “Get thee behind me”! hiss.

Croscosmia Explosion flowers

This crocosmia mimics the color of a juicy tangerine.

Other Crocosmia Options
Better varieties are 10 to 15 inches shorter than Lucifer, don’t crowd out their own flowers and don’t flop to the ground.  Lucifer lovers will complain that none of the other red varieties spread as fast as Lucifer . . . but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Joy Creek NurseryJoy Creek Nursery in Scappoose, Oregon  grows many of the good varieties of crocosmia.  I talked with Maurice Horn, Co-owner and plantsman extraordinaire and all three Crocosmia listed below are currently available:

Hellfire’ available now (6/15/14) at Joy Creek Nursery is 24″-30” and is an intense orange red.

‘Walburton Red‘ is closer to the rich red of ‘Lucifer’ but will increase very slowly compared to ‘Lucifer’. This is where I compare cheap chocolate to real chocolate, by the way.

‘Golden Fleece’ is 24″-30″, an amazing color of deep clean yellow. It starts flowering late in the summer and will carry through to fall.

Croscosmia Explosion flowers

I love to see a mix of different varieties of crocosmia flowers together.

Other good varieties that are hard to find but worthy of your garden
These corms (bulbs) don’t overcrowd and therefore continue to flower freely:

  • Bright Eyes
  • Burnt Umber
  • Little Devil
  • Little Red Head
  • Miss Scarlet
  • Walburton Yellow

Please don’t feel you have to rip out your Lucifer even though I have compared it to bad chocolate! Feel free to try a few of these other varieties and then if you are tired of giving up space to “Mr. Spread and Flop”, you won’t have any problem giving him away to a friend or containing him. Perhaps ‘Lucifer’ is a really great first crocosmia, sort of like a first love James Dean bad boy that you can’t part with.